Friday rain had been predicted, but the skies over Salies remained sunny all day and the temperature climbed to 33ºC. It was a scorcher. I called Kiwi-san.
“Looks like the I-phone forecast was wrong. It hasn’t rained.”
“But it’s going to,” he forecast himself; “I can’t breathe, the air is so heavy.”
He could be right, I thought to myself, and after a few more comments we hung up. The humidity was about 999%. It felt like breathing warm soup. Everything felt sticky, my face, arms, chest and down to the tip of my toes. There was no way to keep dry. I continued working through the afternoon, drenched in (oh, sorry mother) sweat. By evening, Salomé and I were limp as dishrags. At seven o’clock I had finished and it felt like movie hour so I slipped a DVD into the computer screen and settled back with my usual bowl of hot microwave popcorn. At nine forty five, with movie over and night descended upon the town, I took Salomé for a walk. We did a long walk because the night was so beautiful. I had seldom seen the sky so star-filled. ‘So much for rain’ I thought smiling to myself. There wasn’t even a haze or the slightest hint of a cloud. At home, I opened the bedroom windows full swing so that I could get a last glance at the starry sky before dropping off to sleep. Because of the heat, I had also left the living room window open so as to invite a cross current if any breeze managed to come up. I turned off the light and snuggled down into my pillow just as a very soft zephyr seemed to rustle the chimes in the living room. ‘Good, a bit of fresh air to help me sleep’ was what crossed my mind as I closed my eyes.
I might have dozed off, but I’m not sure. The next thing I became conscious of was flashes of white light penetrating my closed eyelids. I opened my eyes and sure enough, lightening lit up the room, and then again, and yet once more, and over and over like a dance of bright white flares traversing the night sky. The breeze had picked up a bit, but not enough to make a sound so the play of white light over and over took place in absolute silence. I listened for thunder; there was none.
Getting out of bed, I crossed to the open window which, being three stories up, gives me a panoramic view of the distant hills to the South West from whence all storms come. This was definitely a storm, if only an electrical one. I could barely count five seconds between one flash of blinding white light and the next; the silhouette of the hills was illumined by Nature’s phantasmagorical dance. I couldn’t take my eyes away. Then there was a distant rumble of thunder, a long, low growl but so far away as to be barely perceptible. Above, scattered stars were still visible through the growing haze.
But the lightening, unceasing, hit the distant hills again and again with its crooked white blade that reflected against the clouds that seemed to have gathered just to see the spectacle. Again and again and again and yet another time the sky released the burning cold white light with barely space or time in between. There was a magnificence to it that took my breath way. Where from came all that crackling, blinding energy that seemed set on waking all night sleepers to contemplate its power?
As the lightning bolts drew closer an occasional crackle and boom of thunder broke the silence, and the drone of a zillion raindrops pommeling the ground reached my ears. Then I saw it, in the weak lighting of the sleeping town, the storm moving in, humongous, a vast hungry cloud engulfing the houses and buildings, piercing the village’s existence with sharp, inhuman white light and drowning out its sleepiness with the pounding of rain. One incredible blinding bolt of lightning illumined the grandiosity of the storm and a blast of thunder so powerful it made the floor under my feet tremble left no doubt as to the force of nature. I stood mesmerized and awestruck as one would stand before the face of God. My heart was beating like a frightened amazed rabbit and the thought of a lightning bolt hitting the metal window frame of my third story apartment crossed my mind, but I couldn’t pull back, I wouldn’t give up the privilege of seeing this night world in all the magnificence of its force.
And then the storm passed. It had not actually rained for more than twenty minutes. I watched the world return to normal, listened to the drip-drip of water from the trees and the gentle rustling of leaves. Slowly I went back to bed, filled with gratitude that Life had allowed me a ringside seat at one of its most magnificent spectacles.