Introspection on a Stormy Summer Evening

I’m sitting at my dining room table on a Tuesday evening, patio door open to birds twittering their evening songs, air humid, sky rumbling. A big storm is on the way, according to the weather app on my phone. Mick is at band practice; he plays the saxophone in our friends’ old-school rock band. I have the local jazz station on. 

I love the feel of a looming thunderstorm. The darkness that swiftly moves in. The hint of electricity all around. How the trees go still, the birds quiet. I wait for that first flash of lightning. 

It’s been sticky outside all day. My granddaughter Maeve hung out with us, her little face a delight after not seeing her for two weeks while she and her mother and sister recovered from COVID. She was pretty happy until about 5 p.m. when she slid into universal crabby baby time. I took her to the front step, where there’s a bench and a rug. We sat there, Maeve playing and grabbing my fingers to help pull herself up every so often. She doesn’t seem very interested in crawling, but standing has appeal. I believe she’s going to take off running before long. Her impatience is palpable.

The first drops of rain are falling. And there’s the thunder, small grumbles of it. To the west, the sky is a mixture of sun’s last blush and storm, even though it’s too early for sunset here. The air coming through the screens is cool, caresses my bare toes.  

The fairy lights in the glass jar on the patio table just went on. It shouldn’t be this dark for another 40 minutes. 

Half an hour ago, I washed some dishes at the kitchen sink. When I looked out the window over the sink, I saw five crows in the dead pine tree on the other side of the neighbor’s yard. They were perfectly outlined against the broiling clouds. I stopped washing the dishes, got out my old Nikon and the long lens. Who can resist crows? I shot four wonderfully moody photos that matched what I was already feeling: a little wild, a little turbulent. Just like the world feels most days now.

I think a lot about what kind of world Maeve is growing up in, worry about the fact that she’s a female child whose life is constantly challenged and shaped by how women and children are treated. I hope she’s a storm of her own, a force whose strength moves her along no matter what gets in her way. 

The other solar lights on the patio just went on, a string of six white globes that turn different colors in the dark. Neither Mick nor I can figure out how they change colors without taking apart one of the globes, so we just enjoy them. They can be a mystery. More lightning, more thunder. Not much rain yet. 

And there goes the weather app again: severe thunderstorm warning until 9:30 p.m. Nickel size hail. We’ll see. Hail is hit and miss – no pun intended. The last time we had hail, back in May, we had drifts of it pile up. It was the worst hail we’d ever had. I’m guessing this won’t be that bad, but what do I know?

Did I say there wasn’t much rain yet? Now there is. Time to lower the west-facing open windows. The trees are no longer still, but bending with the wind, leaves flipping on the branches.

Over the weekend, we went camping in Itasca State Park with four friends. On Sunday morning as we were taking down our tents, getting ready to head back home, our friend Kent’s weather radio gave warning of severe storms directly west of us, coming out of North Dakota. We finished packing up, followed each other out of the park and onto the nearest state highway. It wasn’t long before we were driving in torrential rain, beneath skies with all variations of swirling, hulking dark clouds. It was close to an hour of that kind of driving, where you can feel the water hit your tires as if you were driving into breaking waves. As we navigated wet roads and occasional wind gusts, Mick wondered aloud what the campground looked like at that moment. Neither of us is an experienced camper (our friends are) and we weren’t sure how we would have handled being caught in a storm like that with just a tent between us and the weather. Even though I love storms, I might have been a tad uncomfortable sitting in a tent while thunder boomed and lightning flashed. 

But sometimes there’s nothing between us and the world: not a tent, a house, any solid shelter. Think of things like terrorism, war. The kids who died in Uvalde from the short, sharp thunder of a madman’s gun. The people of Ukraine living and dying with the booms and flashes of Russian missiles and bullets. What can stand up to that? What can move between the people dying and those inflicting death? Ah, that takes the whole world’s efforts, doesn’t it?

Now it sounds like the rain has already let up a bit. The trees are still again. This was just a little storm, moving quickly, doing what summer thunderstorms do: giving us a little darkness, a little danger, then moving away until only flickers and whispers were left of the disturbance. I know Maeve is safe in her crib now. I wish I could say the same for all the children, everywhere.

photo by kcmickelson 2022

Published by Kathleen Cassen Mickelson

Kathleen Cassen Mickelson is a Minnesota-based writer who has published work in journals in the US, UK, and Canada.

10 thoughts on “Introspection on a Stormy Summer Evening

  1. Those storms seem to be more intense than years ago. Those instant down pours…scary driving in them. Glad you guys made back to the cities without issues. Believe me getting stuck in a tent (even for us experienced campers) when there is a roaring rainstorm is not fun! If you miss that one on the bucket list I wouldn’t worry.🤣

    I totally understand your feelings about your young granddaughter growing up right now having to face things that we never could’ve imagined just a few years ago for our generation. Let’s hope they have some creative solutions to these upcoming issues. Hugs to you from Europe (where everything is even more expensive now).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a powerful and descriptive piece of writing with strong messages. Kathleen, thank you for sharing your gift of words with all of us. I felt like I was sitting right there with you, waiting for the storm, seeing the storm, experiencing the storm. And wishing this world was a bit less stormy.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I don’t like the eerie yellow that accompanies some storms here, to tornado-like. Here we get the wind with the storm that strips trees and bends them double. But all in all, it’s nice to listen/watch/smell as long as you’re safe in your house. Not camping. 🙂
    Do you know the crow rhyme?

    One for sadness, two for mirth;
    Three for marriage, four for birth;
    Five for laughing, six for crying:
    Seven for sickness, eight for dying;
    Nine for silver, ten for gold;
    Eleven a secret that will never be told.

    Liked by 2 people

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