Summer. The eternal sunshine of an 18 hour day. Aspens quiver in the breeze, creating patterns like TV noise and sounds like water droplets. The birds make themselves known, calling each other by name. The burning heat and the cool shadow at 3 o’clock. And then the storm comes, dark, grey, and pink, stretching over town like a charged haze. Long rumbles of thunder and short bursts of light litter the afternoon. My mother used to say that long thunder implies a long autumn. I wonder if the storm and the seasons know that.
The hiss of rain in the trees, fading to a smooth hum 100 feet away. The valley is still under the downpour, the wind is gone. Only the thunder sends shock waves through the floor and into my cup of tea. I sit still, breathing quietly on my threshold, feet bare, planted on my wooden deck, steam rising from between my hands, eyes wise open, drinking in the view. The wispy swirls of vapor contrast unnaturally with the overwhelming verticals of rain in the background. I feel the unmistakable sense of contentment spreading in my belly as the warm tea slides down to meet it. I’m alive, but the rain doesn’t know. My shiny red awning hides me well. Before me, the valley opens and fades in the distance covered by water curtains. The quiet endures.
My feeling of contentment is still ballooning, threatening to leave my body in a sting of joy. My fingertips are prickling and I wonder if there is anyone as lucky as I, to watch this storm from a sheltered spot on top of a hill; to be filled by the stillness of water rushing to the ground; the world washed away, only the uniform patter of drops remaining.
The clouds emptied, the charge spent, the birds calling each other again, checking if everyone washed behind their ears. The sun wasted no time in getting to the crest of the mountain, about to set, bathing the valley in gold light; its warmth just a memory of the scorcher from just before the storm. Long blue shadows and shawls of yellow light. Spheres of water glistening in the grass.
The stillness floods the valley again.