June 6th, 2005

munkacsy_parc_monceau

Brief Windstorm

The midnight hour brought gusty wind that was freighted with a chill more characteristic of March than of June. Most of the crickets fell silent, and the chirps of those who continued were often drowned by the loud rustling of leaves and humming of pine trees. Once the wind ceased, strange, luminous bands of cloud formed and drifted above the suddenly silent woodlands. A few patches of dark sky showed stars, but the early light has now consumed them, and the morning retains a vague overcast. The air smells of recently agitated foliage. Already, the woodpeckers have set up a clattering and the robins chirp. I miss the wind.
caillebotte_the orangerie

Sunshower

Morning's overcast presaged a cloudy day. Late afternoon brought a rising north wind and a few distant peals of thunder. There was much noisy fluttering of leaves, and those little brown things (immature pine cones?) that look like worms flew from the pine trees in great numbers. This was followed by a cloudburst which began just as the solid cloud cover in the west began to break up, admitting bright rays of sunlight which set the rain sparkling. Clouds of vapor rose from the warming pavement even as the bright streaks of rain continued to fall.

At that moment, the UPS truck arrived bringing a package, and I found it slightly comical to see the driver dash up the walk to our front door in the unexpected downpour. He didn't linger, but ran quickly back to his truck. When I took the package into the kitchen, I discovered that, had he arrived at the back of the house, he could have stayed dry. Though the rain was falling quite furiously in the front yard, soaking every part of it not sheltered by the mulberry leaves, the back yard was almost entirely dry, with only a few scattered sprinkles falling. I looked out front again, to see if the rain had stopped there, but it was still pouring down, a brightly lit curtain with a backdrop of splendid white clouds bordering a patch of perfectly blue sky and a sun so bright it made me squint.

It turned out that the rain never did fall in the back yard. After a few moments, it ceased altogether, leaving the front yard soaked, but the leaves of the plants in the back yard bore only a few scattered beads of moisture. It's the first time I've ever been right on the edge of a cloudburst that didn't move beyond my position. A novelty! I don't suppose it will ever happen to me again.

Once the rain had stopped, the clouds began to dissipate, and by sunset there were only a few patches that glowed like pink hieroglyphs against the darkening blue. The wind had gone, too, and the hour or two of evening sunlight had dried every trace of moisture from leaves and soil and pavement. But the air remains crisp under the now-cleared sky where the stars have begun to emerge. The storm has left only its chill and its scent. That's what the crickets are singing about tonight, I'm sure.