Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Ignoring the signs
The first sign came as I brought up the weather radar on my computer. It was grey outside, ominously dark, but not raining. The radar showed a thin, fierce slash of thunderstorm drawn south to north through my neighborhood. I thought "Surely this will pass by in time for my four mile walk to the University." But when I looked at the weather in motion on the radar there was a pattern in it I'd never seen before. The thunderstorms formed out of nothing south of the twin cities, then, in a weird, narrow swath, flowed like a river north, right through my walking route.
Used to thunderstorms that move through instead of endlessly generating in the same place I decided to deny the evidence of my eyes. Plus it wasn't even raining out.
The second sign came as I stepped out the door. It still wasn't raining. But the sky looked green. "It's probably something wrong with my eyes." I thought.
The third sign came after ten minutes of walking. It had started raining steadily. I had put on my poncho that I bought for three euros at a Tabacchi in Rome. It had a picture of the Colosseum on it. Thunder sounded not that distantly. The rain turned heavy. I saw someone walking on a sidewalk perpendicular to me and I thought towards them "What are you doing out here! Are you crazy? Get out of the rain!"
It did not occur to me that I was out in the rain. This was the last person I saw outside for another hour.
The fourth sign is expressed in this: It rained so hard that several times during it I thought to myself "Wow, it can't possibly rain harder than this!" At which point it rained harder. Then it hailed.
The fifth sign was when the lightning struck the thought flitted through my mind "If you count how long until the thunder you can tell how safely far away the lightning is." But I was never able to get to the counting before time was up.
The sixth sign was in the hopeful sky ahead. Looking north I could see gaps in the clouds. A couple of times I could even glimpse blue sky. But always behind me and above, the direction from which the storm came, it was black and exploding with bolts of electric fire.
The seventh sign was in the waterfalls of the river gorge. Wild, gorgeous streams and falls had formed, pouring out terrific gushes of water. I found myself curiously not admiring them.
The eighth sign was that even though the only exposed, non waterproof part of my person consisted of the area of my legs from the knees to above my ankles, that section was so saturated that it was able to spread a drenching soddenness to virtually every part of my body. A quart of water was in each of my waterproof shoes alone.
There was no ninth sign. I arrived at my car at the University. I drove it to the library and squelched in. I was a spectacle. I had defied the gods. It went about as well as that usually does.