Summer storms are the best purgatives, aren’t they? We had a whopper yesterday afternoon, after a moody morning of fitfull, humid gusts. Out on the trail with the dogs, the air pressed around my shoulders like a heavy cape, and leaves danced spastically above as the breeze accelerated, then died, then accerlerated again. When we came to
the high clearing where the trail branches down in several directions, the sky to the west was battleship gray, steely-blue and foreboding. I’d planned to walk a slightly longer route in hopes of beating the weather; local radio announcers had been bleating about heavy rains and thunderstorms all morning, words like “perilous” and “torrential” peppered the weather reports. As we looked west towards the approaching front, Cordelia’s ears pricked up at a distant roll of thunder. She’s not a fan. I don’t know the circumstances of her Tennessee puppyhood, but she is cowed by sudden loud noises – cracking branches, distant fireworks, a car backfiring. Her bold little spirit is undone by thunderstorms. Her tail curls between her legs and her ears flatten against her skull. She freezes, standing, as if to avoid notice of this booming threat. We once had another dog who hated thunderstorms, Hobbes. When he got older and sick, he would run away if he sensed a storm was coming, and the entire panicked family would fan out in the driving rain to find him. I didn’t think Cordelia would bolt, but rescue dogs have unexpected layers, so I leashed her up and we turned back, Westley, unperturbed, leading the way. The woods grew darker and the thunder followed us as we alternately jogged and race-walked the mile home.
The storm broke over the house about five minutes after we got inside. Those radio announcers weren’t kidding: Rain slashed down in vertical sheets, so heavy you couldn’t see more than twenty feet out the window. Thunder rolled cathartically over the roof and the wind whipped the treetops into a froth. Cordie followed me like a small child from room to room as I showered and got ready to meet a friend for lunch, her expression wary and submissive. Westley, on the other hand, is impervious to such energetic surges: he phlumpheddown onto his bed in the mudroom and fell asleep as the sky crackled and boomed overhead. I’m neither afraid, nor inured. I love a good thunderstorm. It’s like fireworks, the boom in your chest, the explosion of sound and energy, the anticipation of waiting for the next crrr-ACK!, the suspense: when it will come? Thrilling.
By late yesterday afternoon, the system of turbulent weather had moved out to sea. A sweet, cool front skipped in on its heels, the humidity washed away, the sky scrubbed a deep blue. This morning, the air is crystalline, the light sparkles, the sky is bluer than a baby’s eyes. Such a morning fills your heart right up.
I try to remember, in these tumultuous times, that the bombast of a big storm so often leads to a cleaner, healthier day.