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Journal Musings Nature

White Torrent

The sky split open and dropped a thunderous deluge earlier this afternoon, making the noon sky dark as evening. The rain came down so strong the air turned white with mist and a cascade of runoff pummeled the leaves of the two-year old avocado tree growing in the corner of the garden.

Tanzawa Mist Trail
Steep trail in the hinter regions of the Tanzawa Mountains, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, 1994.

The sky split open and dropped a thunderous deluge earlier this afternoon, making the noon sky dark as evening. The rain came down so strong the air turned white with mist and a cascade of runoff pummeled the leaves of the two-year old avocado tree growing in the corner of the garden. The courtyard between this apartment and the one across flooded ankle deep and the raindrops shooting into the standing water rattled like a thousand eggshells breaking in plastic bowls. In the midst of it a lone cabbage butterfly fluttered between the Japonica bush and the overgrown lot beyond the wall of my garden, dodging the raindrops like a soldier under fire. Thunder rumbled overhead, but never broke, the sky invisible through the veils of drizzle.

I sat with the window wide open, on the leeward of the apartment, while on the other side the window sustained a wild lashing, almost as if some desperate person were flailing at the panes, attempting to break in. The drafts of cool air and the continuous roar of the rain, accompanied by a steady dripping upon the wooden cover of my neighbor’s cement mixer set me to gazing at the sky, mesmerized by the shifting mist and the white noise of the streaking pins of raindrops. Time ceased. I forgot where I was.

Then, suddenly, the sky parted and all was still, but for the lingering dripping of leaves and eaves. The water on the ground drained away. My neighbor, a short, elderly man who appeared at odd times, stepped out and stood contemplating the wet concrete in front of his door. He picked up a pair of drenched rubber boots and dumped out the water. Then he stepped back indoors.

The sun sliced through the grayness and spilled color over everything, as if switching from a black and white photograph to a color slide. The false acacia in front of my window glowed orange in the late afternoon angle of sunlight. One cricket tentatively tried his wings then fell silent. And the swelter of the morning, now washed out, swept back into my room like a minty breath, inviting me to celebrate the coming of evening.

It reminded me of Germany and classical music. Any moment now I would hear my grandmother, Oma, yodeling from the back room, “Dinner is ready! Come on now, it’s time to eat!”

And I got up, though there was no one there, and retired to the kitchen. The sun faded into a steely blue. Night life began, with the yellow aura of light bulbs.

5 replies on “White Torrent”

Was just thinking today how wilderness always exists everywhere, when not large and awesome, then it lives in the little details. Storms like yesterday’s overwhelm the senses, but if you kneel down in the dirt and peer at the tiny world there, the same energy plays out its dramas; you just have to put yourself into that point of view.

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