Friday, August 3, 2007

When It Rains . . . It Hails

I absolutely love a good thunder storm. It’s not your kinder, gentler Mother Nature, the one I see in my garden every day. There’s not a gentle breeze, singing bird or buzzing bee in this scenario. Nope, this is brute strength, Gaia unbound.

After days of record heat and unbearable humidity that forced me indoors and cancelled any attempt at working in the sun-drenched garden, the gathering haze on Friday morning came as a welcome relief. As the temperature dropped during the late afternoon, I dared to venture outside for a go at the unruly weeds and lawn. The day drew to a close, and gathering clouds swallowed what was left of the sun. A quick current of air ran through the tree tops, descending to ground level to play with abandoned pots and empty mulch bags.
The first large drops of rain caught me on my knees spreading mulch. I glanced at the sky, recognized the storm drawing in a deep breath, preparing to exhale. I smiled, stood, wiped my hands, gathered tools and headed indoors. By the time the mower was stored away, the drops had become more insistent, beating down on the patio’s corrugated roof. And then the sky let loose. Torrents of rain beat against the house with machine gun rhythm. The sound grew deafening and, I realized, it wasn’t just rain. Hail pelted the house, the ground, every leaf and blossom all around, bouncing like miniature ping pong balls in all directions. Wind whipped through the trees; lightning and thunder sparked overhead. The lights inside blinked, flashed and failed.

Out came the emergency flashlights and candles, just in case the power outage stretched on into the night. Once the rain subsided, I ventured into the yard as night began to settle in. The storm had left behind crisp, clean air and the sound of the trees sloughing off the remnants of the storm. Around me, it looked for all the world as though someone had strewn mothballs across the grass and the mulch-covered beds.

I shared Gaia’s joke, gathering a sampling of the frozen spheres in my hand, laughing as they melted between my fingers. A taste of winter in August. But why not? At one point this past January, there wasn’t a snowflake in sight and I spent a day in the yard mulching beds I’d neglected when the weather turned cold last fall. The temperatures dropped and the winter snow returned soon after, just as the remains of Friday’s hail storm disappeared long before morning arrived. But it was fun and quirky – a garden rarity gone in the blink of an eye.

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