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Friday, June 10, 2005

Yesterday afternoon: me sitting here, futzing around on the 'net. The day outside, already warm and humid, had turned gray, hazy. A voice on the radio mentioned something about a severe thunderstorm warning. I listened, they named a couple of counties, neither of which were this one. Good, thought I.

The gray and haze deepened, I pulled on work clothes, went down to the garage to finish putting the lawn mower back together and get some grass cut in case rain started up. I opened one of the bay doors to let in air/light, heard thunder muttering off to the west and south. Dark clouds hove slowly into view as I worked, thunder became more distinct, more frequent, accompanied at times by distant flashes of light.

Finished the work, cranked up the mower, began plowing through grass growing taller, more dense by the nanosecond. Five minutes later, the first drops fell. Lightly to begin with, pleasant, remaining so for a few minutes. Dark clouds continued overspreading the valley, thunder and lightning nearing with them, the rain gradually grew heavier, though still not enough to force a retreat. Given the expanses of grass heaving themselves obnoxiously skyward, retreat was not the preferred option -- I pushed on, ignoring dampness. Until the clouds finally opened up in a way impossible to ignore, moderate showers becoming a deluge, forcing me and the mower into the garage to stand and watch, thunder growing ever louder, jagged bolts of lightning extending down from the clouds in every direction.

Back inside, I cranked the up computer once again, the scene outside growing wilder by gradual increments. Wild enough that after fifteen or twenty minutes I turned the 'puter off, a power outage seeming like a real possibility. Sure enough, ten minutes later, out it went. I took a seat by a window, opened a magazine, tried reading.

Outside, the wind, initially from the west, had shifted to the south. Then to the east. Then to the north, howling and whistling louder with each shift, trees and bushes whipping around in the middle of it all. I'd originally closed westward-facing windows, found myself having to run around and shut them all as the rain became more insistent, less predictable. Around thirty minutes into all this, the weather outside steadily intensifying, the first sharp explosions of hail sounded against the south side of the house. On and off like that for a few minutes, until all of a sudden the feel of the storm intensified drastically, the roar of wind and rain practically deafening, the house shaking, outside visibility by then nonexistent. Feeling for all the world like a tornado had touched down.

I thought about that, listened to the growing apocalypse, got up, went to a window. It sure as hell looked and sounded cyclonic, though I couldn't see a funnel. Couldn't see much of anything, really, except torrential water running down the windows, beyond that vague, dark shapes of bushes and trees writhing amid wind-driven chaos. Scary.

It continued like that for another few minutes, water beginning to bleed in through the seams of closed windows, beneath closed doors to run across the floor, the house heaving about as if it wanted to leap off its foundation, until the racket slowly, slowly began easing up. Thirty minutes later, the rain had essentially stopped, the world outside lay thickly littered with blown leaves and broken branches.

Power remained off through the evening, through the night. I slept fitfully, waking up to hear crickets singing away, getting up after first light to stumble to the bathroom, dump the ballast. Shuffled back to bed, dozed until 7:30, opened my eyes to find the bedside clock still dark, the power still dead. With all the distractions, I'd forgotten to wire the lid onto the compost bin yesterday evening. A local bear had stopped by during the night, ripped the lid off, hoovered down some fresh organic trash.

I called the power company, asked when current might be restored, they said crews were out finishing work in our area, it could be on as soon as eight o'clock. Just in case they were lying through their well-intentioned teeth, I packed showering/shaving implements, ready to make the trip into town to the gym to use the facilities if the utility folks didn't come through. Around 8:15, power abruptly returned, announced by the refrigerator with a fast hiccup, then the hum of its compressor getting back to work. I walked around the house, opening shades, windows, adjusting clocks, appreciating the feel of normal life.

The simple blessings of cold food, lamps that light up, clocks that show the time.

This life of ours -- it's just one big kick in the pants.

Madrid, te echo de menos.

rws 2:47 PM [+]

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