Arcs of June

Thu, 06/11/2020 - 5:00pm

Every year, around this time, when the grass is tall and heavy laden with seed, we get a big rain; this year was no exception.

We experienced a summer squall Saturday night. It had been foggy in the morning, then it seemed to clear to sunny warm. Some serious system on the radar mappings looked to be passing well to the north of us, but as much as I know weather has a way of shifting course; I dismissed the threat.

It was warm, I finally discarded my sweatshirt, only to soon feel a gush of chilling wind rushing through the front entry, into the hall and turning a corner to find me. The sky in the northwest was dark and ominous, but such a sky can sometimes mean no more than the changing of the direction of the wind. There were hopeful layers of light and cloud to the south, rising up from the Southeast Lighthouse into the heavens.

My dog stands in the yard and barks at fireworks, as she barks at the sound of a door opening up the road and a plane overhead. I am fortunate — she is fortunate — that she is not terrified by thunder and lightning. She frets, sometimes, hearing it before I notice, but that is just another “let me go out so I can answer it” action, not an early stage of panic.

So, she stood in the yard, and responded to the seemingly distant rumbles, and I kept thinking the rain would, as it seems often to do in summer, pass to the north of us, great gray curtains making the ocean and the clouds one, a water wall between us and the mainland.

But it is not yet summer, technically, and the rain did not pass on by. The clouds burst with that Biblical fury I always associate with a more sudden, more violent storm arriving without warning during a meeting, a charette, at the Harbor Church, in the nineties. It was reminiscent of gatherings that have been going on most of my memory, and probably well before, generally dominated by “we love Block Island so much but let’s just change this one thing...” which leads to a whole long list. I remember, before hell’s fury was unleashed, the person sitting beside me writing the name of a town known nationally for its wealth, on their pad, an actual pad of lined paper, a one word summary of what they really wanted here: where they came from.

No one had thought to close their car windows against the sunny day and the storm gave no forewarning, no chance to dash out in early raindrops, so we sat in the sunroom on the south side of the building, darkened to twilight by the downpour, and listened to pounding on the skylights. The wind raged, as well, and took down branches and at least one awning frame of a New Harbor bar.

Then it was over.

The storm late Saturday did come with a bit of a hovering rumble, and I remembered I had left my car windows wide open. Fog was moving in, then, clouds of ground fog, closing off that optimistic view to the south. Then the rain came, torrents of water hitting with such a force they bounced off the entry roof in white sheets, and the lightning joined the thunder, close but not dramatically loud.

“It is raining too hard to last” I told friends outside Philadelphia who had called just before the storm and it did not last.

It seemed over and I left, grateful I’d thought to close the car windows. The grass, so tall at the edge of the field, the same I’d asked be left a bit longer, while the drying daffodil greens nourished the below ground bulbs, had been beaten, arching over and down, almost reaching the green swatch that grows between the traveled lanes of my road. It is thick with clover, and the red and white flowers it bears this time of year, more “don’t cut them yet” blossoms.

The rain came back, briefly, softly, before it ended completely, an end of day sun-shower, something else that often happens this time of year. The rainbow started, then it grew, intensifying in color, a full, vibrant arc across the sky with a softer mirror appearing above it.

It faded, slowly, the sun brightened before it set, and the only arc left was the tall grass, waiting to brush my sweet Autumn who doesn’t know enough to cross the clover to the other lane of the road.