Storm Chased

A mean storm meeting a beautiful evening sky. Run!

It was time to go. She looked along the row of desks to the window next to the wall clock that evidenced the time. She got stuck on the window. She wasn’t running late, but it was dark. She walked past the empty desks to look outside. Everyone in her aisle had already left. Slackers.

Her eyes scanned the sky. It looked like it might be getting ready to storm. Like an August squall kind of storm. In the heat of summer there are spates of mini-monsoons, sometimes four, five or six days in a week. These are expedited events. Storms that when you beat them home, you’re dry. And if you don’t, you’re wading ankle deep through a tiny flash flood roiling at the storm drains at the intersection. The latter is a bit gross.

She shut down her Pokemon session that had been running amiably in the background all day. There were a few pokestops near the office, and someone(s) had been setting lures. No walking but much catching between emails and meetings.

She swiped over to the weather app. It displayed a current temperature of a comparatively mild 88°F. Rain wasn’t forecast for another hour. She’d be home in half that. Quicker if she took in fewer steps and high-tailed it to the closest train station. She grabbed her backup umbrella, just in case. She put it back in her cubby. She wouldn’t need it.

She looked up at the window again and thought better. She plopped the tiny orange umbrella in her bag. It didn’t take much space, and better to be prepared. The app said No. The sky disagreed. She was going with the non-virtual reality.

She optimistically put on her sunglasses rather than her inside peepers. She placed her sunhat on her head–easier to wear than to carry even though she looked ridiculous walking into the premature evening decked in sunwear–and pushed through the two sets of doors to the sidewalk.

She had been out at lunchtime when it was plenty hot. The vestiges of that hot was on the metal and glass of the doors. It rose from the sidewalk through the soles of her shoes. It was still hanging out in the thick air. She turned toward the corner and her hand flew to her head, to keep her wide brimmed straw chapeau from lifting off her head. She turned to a stranger at the light.

“Wow! Now that’s a cold front.” The woman next to her took in the floppy bonnet, looked up to the blackening sky to the west and grinned her agreement as she scurried across the street. The light had changed. All the commuters on the sidewalk were dashing to their next stop. The wind was cold. And pushy. It was a warning.

Her foot reached the sidewalk on the other side of the street. She looked up, again, to her right. The clouds were moving, and getting darker. There was a definite border between the stormy side and the calm side. The stormy side was encroaching, though. There wasn’t a  referee to throw a flag and make it organize itself according to the rules.

She saw the man who spent the day on the street packing up. She somehow knew he didn’t sleep on this street, but she had never seen him leave. The wind was motivating him.

She stopped every eight or ten steps and looked back at the sky. She saw a flicker of lightening and heard the thunder. She mounted the top of the escalator and descended into the subway and boarded a waiting train.

Her car came out of the tunnel. Damn. She was losing the race with the storm. The line of blue sky and fluffy white clouds was behind her, behind the train. Before her was a dark, rumbling and angry sky. Looking over her left shoulder she could see the reflection of sunshine. A caldron of something wicked this way comes to her right.

The conductor warned the people on the about the weather conditions. “Use caution on the platform,” he entreated. She dismounted from the train onto the bricked walkway. She smelled storm. They say it’s ozone. The sky cleared its throat like an old smoker.

It wasn’t raining now, but it just had. People stood at the edge of the cave that opened into the elevator well. She pulled out her little umbrella and released it from it’s little bag. It wasn’t quite raining. Not yet.

She held the umbrella above her head that was covered by her sunhat. Her sunglasses and staw hat looked silly underneath the short-sticked, orange umbrella. Nobody noticed. If they were under the overhang, they were looking up. If they had left the station with her, they were looking to get out of the rain. Some went to the bus bays. Others to the kiss and ride. She and some others walked along the sidewalk to the intersection.

There was a flash and a boom. The lightening and the thunder were concurrent. The storm was here and now. She ran a few steps, and then the rest of the block. She wondered if she could minimize being struck by lightening by running. It couldn’t hurt.

Going home meant going toward the bright part of the sky. Maybe if she hurried–another reason to run–she could leave the storm. Her house seemed to be underneath the clearing. The rain was hitting the cover above her head with more purpose. It was still fairly light. Another flash and another deep grumble from the sky. She skipped over the curb and flew to the next corner. The next flare lit up the street. The thunder was quick to follow, louder, longer and lower than before. She saw her house and squared her gate to be greeted on the porch by a big dog and a man.

He laughed at her sun and rain gear. She closed her umbrella and the sky opened up and poured rain. She was home just in the knick of time.

Pitchers of Water

Post storm water droplets reflected on the leaves of the tree. This is awesome. Who knew you could capture this on a phone? Really, who knew?

The sky opened up with a fury unleashed from the heavy ball and chain of oven heat and thick humidity. It was like a bunch of frat boys balancing an unlimited supply of beer tubs full of cold water and dumping them, one after another, over the deck and the wet splashing down on unsuspecting bystanders. It was that. With an EDM light show and the deafening boom of Thor’s hammer. And, tragically, without the eye candy of the God of Thunder.

A bunch of people were plastered against the wall of the building underneath a narrow overhang. They must be waiting for the bus. The bus must be delayed. Of course it was, since the “safety surge” is serially shutting down stretches of the subway all summer. The people were mostly wet, some very very wet. But they jostled for dry space as they waited for their mad dash to the H Bus. They held umbrellas and plastic CVS bags against the wet. Almost all of them had at least a small dry patch. They worked to maximize that patch.

There was a man who exuded misery, or he would if anything could come out of him. He was slick with water, his white shirt glued to his back. It wasn’t that he didn’t care. It was that it didn’t matter if he did. His abject look of surrender to the buckets that poured over him was truly miserable. His hair framed his face with a mousy brown fringe. Water drops fell from his sharp nose, from his chin, and his hands were too wet to brush the rain away. They just moved the wet around. He plodded along. He would get on the subway platform and a pool would form around his soggy shoes.

A pair of young women walked on the other side of the street. Their rubber flip flops absorbed nothing. One woman grabbed her companion’s arm to stop her from tumbling into the rushing water as she slipped off her sandal. They both said sorry at the same time. They leaned into each other as they laughed. And they poked each other with their useless umbrellas. “Why are we holding them?” they laughed, again.

The rain ran down from their waists and then splashed up from the sidewalk to soak the hems of their dresses. One wore a skirt that had been flirty before the wet made it hug her legs. The other wore one of those cotton shifts with an overlay of lace. It was heavy now and was causing her legs to chafe.

The one with the chafing pointed to the mojito bar. They shook their umbrellas, squeezed out their dresses, shook their thick manes of curls and stepped out of the rain into the ice box of a bar where they took their spots.

Summer Is Coming

Dear lord, can't you smell the honeysuckle?!

We have been devoid of Spring. It has not come. It has forsaken us.

Now, it is late May, the trees are in full leaf. As if we had had Spring. But we did not.

Spring comes in small signs and then big gestures. And we have not had that progression. No. We have not.

It is supposed to be portended by the sharp points of the crocus leaves that deliver purple and white blooms in late January or early February and followed immediately by the yellow stars of the forsythia. These flowers bring joy when they disdain the snow and show themselves through the icy crystals. This did not happen.

Instead we had all of the flowers, the crocus, the forsythia, the cherries, the tulips, the daffodils and, even, the iris present themselves all at once and out of order at once. The buds were baffled by the long, rainy and mostly cold time during and after winter, inclusive of the time that we would call Spring.

There have been only four days this month without rain. I didn’t believe it either. I counted. Row by row I counted. And I remembered each cold damp day this month. And unlike any other May that I have seen in Washington, D.C., the temperature did not meet 80°F until yesterday. No. It did not.

There are only five days until the official beginning of summer; Memorial Day when you can fashionably wear white shoes–as if you would, but at least you could.

So tonite as I strolled up and down the street, with The Beast mostly in tow (yes, he tried to tow me, but I was having none of it), I was restored.

I had retrieved him from his hut and swapped my shoes from the sling backs to the sneakers. That damn dog has pulled me out of many a sling back, I tell you.

I didn’t grab an umbrella or don a raincoat or even snuggle into a hoodie for that matter because the night was unusually, albeit appropriate to the calendar, warm. As we ambled, the air was without bite, the hairs on my arms were not called to warm. And then. And then. And then.

There was the perfume of the honeysuckle that filled the entire block, maybe the entire street and perhaps, even, the entire city. It was that big. It was spicy, and sweet and actually radiated warmth, not just in my nose, but on my cheeks and on my forehead and on the exposed backs of my hands and on my knees and my ankles.

It was all of Spring, all that we missed for the past ten weeks, undiluted and concentrated in this fraction of an hour. It was so redolent and so encompassing that I feel that Spring was not stolen from me this year. It just arrived. All at once, in one breath. Yes, it did.

Delayed Rights of Spring

stonetable

It seems like it stopped raining. A recently absent companion, the sun, checked in. It was a welcome warmth.

There hasn’t been a single May morning coffee on the back porch. In any regular year, by this time, there’s usually been more than one seating. When the birds are doing their chirp thing. The sun is doing it’s shine thing. The air is doing it’s tickling breeze thing.

There are few weeks in the year that so fully welcome balancing a morning mug and the sports pages. Warm, bright, dry and bug free. With miserable rain every day so far this month, we’ve already lost two of those potential weeks.

Looking across the back porch, though, it’s not just the weather that’s less than genial.

There are still remnants of the last Christmas party strewn in the corners of the deck. Two green solo cups, one flattened, are joined by yellow half smoked cigarettes, empty charcoal gray seedling containers, a ladder, a racoon trap and detritus–including rusted scrapers, bent racks and lava rocks–from the protected charcoal grill and the busted up gas grill. Oh, and the two faded cans of diet Dr. Pepper that somehow did not burst during the multiple freezes since that party. It was a good party.

There are a few planters, some with dirt and some still virginal. Virginal except for that wintering over, anyway. There are some random pieces of wood–in that they really have no discernible purpose on the porch, an empty propane tank and pieces of a windchime that was weathered down. Six iron chairs are stacked in the corner, next to an upturned plastic trash can and an abandoned votive holder. The really nice one that refracts the flicker of the candle onto an evening meal.

The deck isn’t rickety, although it looks like it might be. I would not recommend leaning against the rails, more out of an abundance of caution. I would not recommend walking barefoot, this is from an abundance of splinters picked out of my feet.

It sounds much worse than it is, though. It’s about twenty or twenty-five minutes of picking up and another five or ten minutes to wipedown surfaces. Once the cushions are set on the unstacked chairs and the red and white striped umbrella is planted and raised, all I need to do is find my favorite tablecloth. The sun-bleached green one strewn with large pink cabbage roses that used to belong to my mother-in-law. It has a  five or six inch double fabric border that is a little more green, a little less bleached. It’s square so it gets angled like a diamond to cover most of the round table.

The round table on the back porch is waiting for my red mug and the Sunday paper and my countenance proclaiming spring. Coming soon.