The sky was falling

Vigorously. That is what we say when the clouds pour their liquid load on our house.

I have awakened the past few mornings to grayer skies lighting, dimly, my bedroom. I lay there torn between competing imperatives: I should stay in bed and read or go back to sleep, and I should be up already finding some constructive endeavor with which to occupy my attention.

Maybe it’s raining, I think, though I know from the roar I do not hear that there is not enough storm for that much dark.

Maybe the sun is being filtered by smoke from western fires; I call up another reason for the lack of solar illumination. I am aware that California and parts of western Canada have been and continue to be turning to ash in the aridifying clime.

Maybe it is simply that morning is coming a little later these days. After all, the time between sunup and sundown has technically been shrinking since June.

Feet to the floor, I peer out the window above my pillow at a shallow stream beginning to flow down the street.

By mid-afternoon, the sump pump below our living room repeats its regular 15-second hum, then double-thump as it alternately pumps water from the crawl-space under our home to the grass out front, and then halts to wait for the water to rise again, lifting the float to flip the switch to power another hum.

We came home from Lancaster one night several years ago to find the pump had quit working. Water had flowed under the walls to cover the finished basement under the other half of the house in three inches of water.

I think that was the year area fire companies were kept busy for days pumping unintended swimming pools from beneath many homes. Ours wasn’t that bad, but we lost some stuff that had been in cardboard boxes on the floor.

This time, the pumps have so far kept at their assigned tasks, and the storm, so far, has not been as bad as the weather prognosticators warned – though flash floods in some areas are still a possibility. We knew the hurricane was coming, though it had, as it worked its way north along the Appalachian Mountains, lost most of the muscle with which it attempted its Katrina-like destruction of New Orleans and the nearby Gulf Coast.

I’ve been lucky with hurricanes. Several decades have passed since my most recent experience.

There was one when I was young, early 1960s, I think, that took down some trees along the driveway that led to our home. The parents were worried way more than us kids.

Then, ca. 1968, I was stationed in Jacksonville, Fla when Hurricane Gladys had us scurrying to fly our airplanes out of the way. I don’t remember where we went – New Orleans, I think. What I remember most is the young woman who eventually became my wife had bought a fetching pink dress for our birthday outing – and on the appointed night we were hundreds of miles apart.

I love storms. I love thunder and lightning and wind and rain coming across a lake or pasture or ocean. Their power is beautiful, like watching a gymnast. There is a grace in the performance, the way you know, if the performer were to get too close, you could be hurt badly. Hurricanes also, like gymnasts, are best watched from the bleachers.

The traveling show that was Hurricane Ida is, as I write from my observation post in the upper tier, heading for other venues, leaving us with only a welcome wetdown.

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