Pula

The heat portends rain. It’s stifling, calm, sweltering. The kind of heat that leaves you with no recourse but to take a mid-day nap under a fan that languidly stirs thick simmering air but provides little relief. You wake up sweaty and confused. By late afternoon dark clouds loom on the eastern horizon; edging slowly closer, accompanied by the distant and low rumble of thunder and the far away flash of lightning against the gray-black sky. The sun is soon overpowered by the darkening sky, creating an early false sunset. Confused birds fly into the treetops to roost prematurely. A squawking ibis flies overhead announcing her displeasure. Soon the fanfare begins. Loud kettle drum crashes of thunder follow short on the heels of brilliant flashes of lightning that streak from sky to horizon.

A cool breeze stirs, bringing relief from the day’s heat. Soon the vanguard arrives and the first few fat drops splash heavily to earth, kicking up small dust clouds in the parched soil, creating miniature craters like the surface of the moon. The rain is cold after the day’s heat, bringing instant relief. Treetops sway with strong gusts that announce the arrival of the storm. Drops grow and merge and become entire sheets of rain, pelting the thirsty sand, which greedily soaks up every ounce. Dying wispy stalks of dried yellow grass slake their thirst in the cool deluge; the condemned have been given a last minute stay of execution.

Flash! Crash! Boom! A lightning bolt strikes frighteningly close, making you jump and startling the nearby parked cars, whose alarms cackle like guinea fowl disturbed by a prowling jackal. With a blink the power is out, the house lies darkened and mute under the sound of rain battering the roof tiles. A minor flood in the bathroom shows  evidence of a leaky roof; water pools on the floor tiles and seeps slowly toward its predetermined destination.

After only half an hour the storm has moved along, taking its blessings of life-giving moisture to another thirsty location. Within minutes the soil has absorbed the rain like a sponge, leaving almost no evidence of the brief tempest. The low setting sun peaks through under the departing clouds, lighting the world with a yellowish orange reflected glow, promising a hot tomorrow.

The brief storm is all posture, no action. Its bark reveals a toothless bite. It evokes Shakespeare: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

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