Winter rain puts you in a funk. You wrap up against it, hat, scarf, raincoat, hating the cold and the low grey sky. But summer rain is an entirely different creature. The birds retreat to the shelter of trees but you go out with bare arms and legs, feel the warm drops on your skin, smell the earthy rise of wet dirt and tarmac. Above you a renegade seagull shivers the water from her feathers mid-flight. When the rain stops the world glows in reflection, a heat haze fazing the horizon, and the following day the trees and bushes and flowers will have grown fourfold, nourished by this mid-summer gift.
Thunder and lightening
Outside Las Vegas airport you watch giant forks of lightening crack open the sky. Beside you are two police officers discussing a case of stolen cars that seems to have run cold. They have stopped their day of law enforcement to gaze at the electric sky, and you are amazed at their amazement. You are here to catch your flight home and you are eight hours early. You cannot leave Vegas quickly enough, with its slot machines and loud music that overlaps from café to shop to café to shop. But Vegas has given you one final show, so you’ll leave with no hard feelings.
You dislike Vegas but you have loved the desert, driving for hours through the ever-changing landscape. You stop the car at the lonely restaurant in Stovepipe Wells. The temperature is 122º and when you step outside you can barely breathe, the heat like an animal that wants to suffocate you from the inside out. You want to cross the road to browse in the shop, the only other building as far as the eye can see, but you’re afraid you won’t make it, that you’ll collapse with dehydration before you get there or your eyeballs will shrivel up and pop out of their sockets. The heat animal tells you there’s no time for this contemplation so you begin walking, every step slow with your leaden-heavy feet and you make it to the delicious air-conditioned palace of goods, buying gifts of native American art for your family. When you leave you drive towards the salt plains, a vast white horizon that glows in the glare of the desert sun.
There is little that has the power to transform quite so much as a thick blanket of snow. City or country, the familiar becomes something new, a muted halt to the regular, a brilliant white pause. When you go out to be amongst it everyone smiles and says hello, minds quickened by the slowing, senses sharpened by the cold.
A lover once told you things must be bad if the only thing you have to talk about is the weather. He’d drawn the clouds so low around him it shrouded his thoughts, his eyes a mist of grey that distorted the truth of what lay before him. You want to always talk about the weather. How the sun burns on your shoulders. How the rain trickles down your scalp. How lightening purifies your heart. The weather is the world expressing her moods. To respond is to be alive.