Chronicles of the Wayward Moot

WELCOME TO THE MOOT, oh world-wanderers and word-whisperers. After two years of Peace Corps. After 2,200 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. What. Comes. Next?

29/06/2009

After spending more than a week at the Residence Inn near the Texas Medical Center in Houston, I was glad to return to Louisiana and at least the sense of family togetherness (two dogs and the pig included of course).  Perhaps not the most exciting place in the world, the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain does have its moments, and I participated in one yesterday that was doubtless the most exhilarating available in my zip code at the time.

Our back porch, usually a frying pan of sun-baked and warped wooden planks, had darkened as the bright oppressive heat of summer became filtered by a towering cloud mass moving through.  What first sounded like a distant construction site accident coalesced into an auditory assault to rival an African stampede or a trench warfare scene from World War I.  Subtle rumbles rolled through the air, building by the minute until great bellicose booms from the Earth's war drums cracked and shook the tall pines striving to stay upright in the mounting gales.  The sky broke loose and all memory of dryness was cast aside to make way for the billion billion drops that soaked the land, trees, homes, minds of a dozen neighborhoods.  I tossed on a hat and sandals to go enjoy the sensory feast.

On the steaming street I felt the sting of water falling at terminal velocity into my eyes, over my shoulders, against my back.  Rain fell so thick as to obscure the view of the houses across the street.  Looking up was impossible, and as I walked the lightning froze the muted landscape like a flashbulb before the thunder pounded my chest and eardrums a second or two later.  Sheets of water ran over the pavement, among the grass blades, ditches filled in a matter of minutes, then poured over into yards and culverts.  I walked amidst the raging storm past people huddled in their living rooms by yellow lamps peering out at the madness beyond their windows.  A metallic swish seemed to be palpable before each white-hot bolt leapt between ground and sky, seconded by the gut-scrambling thunderclap.  I kept towards the middle of the road to avoid the telephone poles and power lines while strolling the block in the downpour.  Winds piled upon winds, blowing basketball hoops over, scattering thick green foliage and old dead branches across the street and yards or swirling into brown streetside torrents of runoff choked with detritus and bits of trash.  Rounding a corner I spied through the blustery dancing rain a large dark mass slip off into a puddle next to a slope of drowning grass.  Sure looked like a small weasel or similar creature ... but where did it go?  A piercing croak on the other side of a culvert answered the question and a massive bullfrog frolicked into the dripping shiny mass of azalea leaves.  Later, a driving cap apparently went scuttling clumsily along the grassy shoulder near a patch of forest.  Inspection revealed it was a large red-eared slider turtle.  I lifted it while rain continued to drench the world and checked out its peculiar hind legs.  Not scarred, but not all there either, the turtle's wriggling displayed clubbed toe-less limbs in the rear, basically ankle bones wrapped in scaly skin.  Strange, but the creature could still get around alright.  I carried it off into the wet forest and laid it down on a bed of decomposing leaves, hoping its life would be long and happy.  A minute later it took off and I did as well, heading back out into the open rain still cascading down in warm sheets.

By the time I reached my house a few miles later, the storm had passed though the sun had yet to return.  What more enjoyable way to witness a thunderstorm's magnificent power and spectacle than directly beneath it, feeling the wind and water on your skin and the thunder beating directly on your soul?

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