The long sunny Sunday afternoons of summer, when I was young and had not yet realized that they weren’t to last forever. With the tea and sandwiches consumed and the cups and plates cleared away, a scent of strawberries, whipped cream and sponge cake hung elegantly through the air. The net curtains billowed back and forth as if controlled by a diaphragm modulating the atmospheric pressure in the back garden. The trees fully dressed in their summer splendour, rustle and bend as a squally wind broils outside. A door to an upstairs room slams shut as the wind moves through the house with no respect or regard for any obstacle it encounters. In little more than a blink of an eye it darkens, a cumulonimbus cloud towers up into the sky like ink spreading its way across blotting paper. An electric charge envelopes everything, the hairs on my arms prickle, I ymyself become energized and suddenly the temperature drops. A jagged seam of pure light tears the sky apart and is quickly accompanied by its slower and noisier sibling who shakes the windows in their frames and forces the dog from the room, tail between its legs.
The two brothers go back and forth, complementing each other, taking turns in performing one of natures greatest acts. They soon become accompanied by another player who makes his way more subtly onto the stage. A thousand footsteps can be heard far off but making their way towards you. Then a footstep kicks the window making the glass sing and again, on the floor close by, another window a few more random kicks before they are consumed by all the footsteps behind, one crescendo of noise. They bring with them the scent of fresh rain on concrete. These sights, sounds and smells of nature produced for the audience in the highest definition.
Sitting there in the ever darkening lounge the storm lets us know the depth of its mood. Sitting there in awe of the dramatic spectacle being played out before us and appreciating respite from the mugginess. Like tumbleweed the wind blows Dad through the lounge door, he spirals around the room like a dust devil with arms, frantically pulling the windows shut.
Now we are divorced from the storm, it is outside and we no longer feel a part of its visceral performance. Meanwhile Dad remonstrates why no e;se one had thought to close the “bloody” windows. He does one more lap of the room before telling us all he’s going upstairs.
I do the only thing a person can do after such a long pause I go into the kitchen to start making more tea.