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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

After The Storm

When late Spring and early Summer storms move into the Midwest, they usually move quickly and carry heavy rains, strong winds and thunder and lightning. They are beautiful and they are breath-taking. They are powerful and they are unbiased. And they can be deadly. And then just as suddenly as they appear - they are gone. Here is one from birth to death.

The first thing that usually happens is the storm front moves into the area, turning a perfectly clear sky to blackness within minutes.

Black, swirling miasmas with fingery tendrils of everchanging wisps. Stealing the day and bringing mock night.

Spilling over the calm skies until nothing but blackness remains.

A seemingly living, breathing entity who's only desire is to paint everything in onyx shrouds.

Once the front moves through, hard on it's heels come the rains. Sometimes they can be quite heavy. A couple years ago, we once got a foot of rain in less than an hour. That's what causes flash flooding and death. Fortunately, my town seems to be on higher ground. I have seen the flood waters reach the edge of my town about 2 blocks from where my house sits. So, who knows how safe we actually are?

After the rains stop falling, there is a moment when everything pauses. The winds stop crying out and the water stops coming down in torrents. A butterfly flits wildly about looking for a place of safety and lands inside the leaves of a sheltering bush before the next wave hits. If there is to be a next wave this time. Sometimes there are second, third and fourth waves. In this case, when it was over, no more cells followed.

There are subtle reminders left behind of what these storms are capable of. A jagged limb lying on the ground. Sudden puddles where once there were none. A leaf that only a moment ago was alive and clinging to a tree in the warm afternoon sun.

Sometimes high above, although there is calm at ground level, there are signs of the violence these storms can unleash. Above are some Mammatus clouds which indicate extreme winds high above. These kinds of formations are dangerous for pilots and airplanes.

Once the danger has passed, what remains of the day starts struggling to reassert itself. The sun spreads a glow that slowly infiltrates through the haze of the trailing edges of the vanishing storm clouds.

And finally, the sun comes blazing forth with the promise of a new day to come tomorrow. All is forgiven and forgotten.

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