There's nothing like being alone in a storm, nice and dry, keeping your mouth shut and your thoughts at bay until they run off and leave you.
It's like taking a free vacation. Call me weird, but I just love a good summer storm in July, if I'm on dry land, inside a house, with my family safe and dry.
Then, I ease away from them, and find a place where I can be alone, and enjoy it.
Yes, weather can kill. I've been in bad storms on big water. There were three days on a Liberty ship I'd rather forget, in the Bay of Biscay off the northern coast of
Nature can grab each of us by the hair any time she feels like it.
She can break a tree and throw that widow-maker through your tent. Or, whip up a killer storm without much warning on a big lake, and take a boat and turn it sideways against the waves.
The first men understood what some of us have forgotten about being out in the open, out in flat fields, with thunder and lightning cracking.
But there's nothing quite like being in your own home when hard rain begins to fall.
For me, to enjoy it, there must be silence. I've never really thought about the rules for enjoying a storm, but writing this, I suppose I have some.
It's not the time for talking, nor is it the time for looking at a screen. It's not time for listening to music.
It's your life, not mine. But silent by design is how I get into a storm.
Some might not like silence. But it suits me at odd times. But for me to enjoy the therapeutics, I put the phone away and turn it off. And I shut down other electronics that might compete with the world out there.
If you give your time to a storm, and your silence, and listen to nothing other than the natural world, you'll remember it for a lot longer than some funny video on your phone.
From a back porch on the second floor of a South Side two-flat when I was a boy, I can still see the junk peddlers in the rutted cinder alley. They cried "Rags 'n' ol' Iron!", but it sounded like "Ragsulai!"
Their hair was slicked back with grease and water. Others of them sat in the back of the truck. They disappeared into the rain.
These days, if you throw in a good cup of coffee, or a good stiff drink, (gin and tonic with fresh lime and bitters is my summer storm beverage of choice) and a fine cigar, I might pronounce the afternoon just about perfect.
And that's exactly what I'm going to do when I finish typing this. There's still some light left. A nighttime storm is OK, but a late afternoon rain is best. You can see.
When the air is moist, full of water, it does something to light. I don't understand the optics and the physics, but the light changes in the wet. It's soft and rounded, on the dark green of the trees, on the light green of my vegetable garden.
Enjoying a storm is one of the things I most miss about summer when it's gone, when ice is on the ground and the wind skitters odd leaves or sticks along the crust of snow.
Regrets come to me then, in the cold of January, remembering the things I wanted to do in July. Why didn't you pay attention when you had the time? Why didn't you take the time to see it, to listen to the slapping on the leaves and the street?
A couple I know each have very different approaches to the rain.
She likes to sit on their porch and enjoy it. He runs around the house, making sure all the storm windows are closed, checking the basement.
"I just can't sit there," he says.
But I can. Only I rarely do so. And because of that I hate myself months later.
It's one of the things I don't do enough of, take time, sit still, watch and listen, let my thoughts run off so far ahead of me that I lose sight of them and forget their names
And there you are, free and thoughtless for a time, the rain pounding down, you're comfortable, dry, but relaxed, like the first men back tens of thousands of years ago.
They didn't have gin and tonic, but perhaps they liked it too, in some dry cave in a thunderstorm, with a fire, their families sleeping, knowing predators would have gone to find shelter.
They must have looked out and watched, thoughtless, listening to the mantra of the water falling all around them.
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