May 20th, 2008


All Around

Late afternoon brought a half hour of thunder with scant rain. Great piles of white cumulus clouds had drifted southeast above the mountains for a few hours, then suddenly advanced to shadow the nearby woods, and then the whole town. The air, already mild but breezy, grew cooler and quickened, and then the resonant rumbling began. Though I hoped for a downpour and perhaps a sun shower, the ground got no more than a freckling of drops which quickly dried. By sunset the clouds had vanished, and the full moon rose in clear sky. At least the higher elevations seem to have spent the better part of the day in shade, which ought to have slowed the melting of the insufficient snowpack— only about half of normal for the time of year.

There's little hope for any further activity from this storm, but the night's coolness is welcome. Before the chill began I'd noticed that a handful of the jasmine blossoms had opened, and thought perhaps tonight would be the first night they would perfume the air. But now I think the night will not be warm enough. Well, that leaves more time for delicious anticipation. It won't be long, I'm sure.

I've never seen a panorama, that unique entertainment of the 19th century which was so popular in the days before movies, but I'd very much like to see the Mesdag Panorama before it collapses into the excavation being built next door to it. The biggest painting in the Netherlands, it is a land and seascape by painter Hendrik Willem Mesdag. It's the oldest surviving work of its kind in the world still in its original building. Van Gogh praised it. It's probably worth saving.

There's a smaller scale panorama of more recent origin in Los Angeles, but for all my chances of getting there it might as well be in the Netherlands too.