25 July 2016

Storm Watchers

I came in early this morning, after an even earlier breakfast with a friend. I pulled my truck into the parking lot a few moments after seven. I park at the south end now. Because the spaces are perpendicular to the rest of the lot, I have to plan an indirect approach. With an F-250, I can’t maneuver easily, so I have to swing wide, but I pull right in between the two yellow lines. Or nearly the middle. I am proud that I get to park in truck row. I’m even prouder that my truck stands taller than the rest. Vestigial masculinity I suppose. I feel big. I feel powerful.

With such an early arrival, I beat the heat. In the morning cool, I am greeted by a few rain drops, not even enough to be concerned that the book I carry under my arm will be damaged. I silently express my gratitude to God and Willis Carrier for air conditioning.

Today is supposed to be hot. Really hot. Dangerously hot. I saw a poster this morning telling me how to recognize the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke. I don’t see posters like that when it’s just hot. Even though I forgot to pack a lunch today, I decided that fasting was preferable to hyperthermia, so I planned to stay in all day. I would learn of the outside world from patients who braved the midday heat.  

Around three o’clock, I heard a rumble. Though I hadn’t eaten much, I knew that sound was thunder, not hunger. My office has a large window facing the west so I turned in my chair to discover a fast moving storm. One of my favorite things about storms is their texture. Clear blue skies are wonderful in their own way, but not like rain storms. I suppose it is like comparing Kansas wheat fields and the Colorado Rockies; each is beautiful in its own way but one has a greater sense of dimension.  At the far back of the sky stand white, billowy clouds, ringed with blue. How far they are, I cannot tell. I am a poor judge of meteorological distance. I am not such a poor judge, however, that I cannot tell that the gray clouds stood closer. Right along the tree line, a gray rat makes his way north. Did God intend to color rats gray so that when He made this very cloud I would see the similarity? The trees themselves lean back in unison to take notice of the rat.

Closer still, above me in fact, a giant black cloud is moving fast to the northeast. When I look straight up, it fills my view. On the leading edge, there is a small wisp of a cloud pacing the large one as if they are attached. I am reminded of the giant barges I used to see on Lake Michigan manhandled by small tugboats. That this coal black cloud can be moved into place by such a small vapor is astonishing.  

The bottom of my window is even with the ground outside. I look upon the grass, darkened by the barge above me. I notice a single blade tremble, with excitement or fear, I am unsure. Perhaps both. Something so enormous must evoke a fearful excitement in one so small. I understand.

The trees, the blade of grass, and I are storm watchers. We feel small. We feel vulnerable.

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