The weather itself is a character in this book. It doesn’t tiptoe in quietly and then back out of the room without anyone noticing. A storm is a storm here. You feel its mythic presence approach from the north then loom overhead like some cruel God releasing its outpouring from giant buckets, complete with stunning special effects, spinning some outdoor furniture around, splitting a tree in two and all.
I am kicking myself for not taking a photo of Norman and his car yesterday. Norman stopped by to deliver a framed mirror for our downstairs bathroom, a task he had failed to do the day before because he got stuck in a hailstorm so massive that the hood of his car looked like Venus Williams had been playing tennis against it. So massive that the nearby Honda dealership had seized the opportunity to promote their auto body repair services: “Caught in the hailstorm today?” So massive that the usually undauntable Norman had to pull over to the side of the road near Troy, call his wife, Christine, and wait it out. The Trojan hailstorm.
Our house is on the top of a big ole’ hill and therefore is basically a lightening rod. Late afternoon in my garden, when I feel the storm coming, that kind of shift of energy as they might say but not truly understand in Northern California, I look at my feet and hope to see my rubber Sloggers (does that really work!?), I toss my metal pruners into my basket and race for the door.
If there are kids around here, like there were yesterday, I promise for the thousandth time to install one of those old-fashioned school bells to get everyone up from the pond. Instead I just yell and run down in my Sloggers like Auntie Em.
I remember the scene in the movie Poltergeist when the boy counts the seconds between the lightning and the thunder, relieved as the counting gets longer. When I’m alone, working in my kitchen, I can barely count to one when the thunder cracks over my ceiling. I locate the flashlight, just in case. Fill a bottle with water. Get a hammer, as my husband advises over email, and go to the utility room. Wait it out.
Of course the kids always do manage to come up from the pond in one, unelectrified piece. The counting eventually gets to two then three. The dark clouds pass. And I never have to use my hammer to claw my way out from the toppled bricks. But for a moment, under that menacing sky here on the hill, the solid house quakes, the storm clamors hard against the rooftop and rips limbs from their perch, and it does seem like the world might end.
Take your boots off before you come in here!