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The Storm

7pm the day before the morning of the storm

7pm the day before the morning of the storm

Another view 7pm to the north, clouds roll along a butte

Another view 7pm to the north, clouds roll along a butte

Last night I was witness to a staggering spectacle, an event no man can control, manipulate, make signage for, run through pipeline, or build out of concrete.  Maybe it was predicted on the evening weather report, but those are only small thoughts compared to the largesse of this event.

A storm rolled in and in and in, all night, Mostly dry lightning. Even few seconds deep booms filled the air, followed by flashes, sometimes from the eastern sky, other times from the north or west. Sometimes sheet lightning, other times forked. An ancient waning moon played its’ light between large clouds, illuminating the night landscape, then hiding and allowing the flashes of lightning to eerily cast shadows, blindingly, for a few seconds.

Light rain fell, then paused.  The lightning, the thunder, the moon, the slow moving clouds continued for hours.  It was a massive concert, with many movements, orchestrated by an invisible conductor, hardly any audience to appreciate it since it rolled throughout the late night.

At 11:00 I looked out the window.  The sky was fairly clear.  The night was silent.  The moon played behind the clouds in a beautiful inviting way.  Something drew me to sleep outside.

I grabbed my sleeping bag, and an old buffalo hide, and laid out on a couch I have set under a covered porch with a view of the north, eastern and western sky.  Wyoming skies are like no other, broad and sweeping, punctuated with fabulous rugged mountains and reef cliffs—this was my view.  In the bright moonlight, the colorless landscape was of haunting beauty.

I set up the bag, got comfortable, and began watching the play of Venus, the clouds and the moon. Without me planning it or knowing what was arriving, I became witness to hours of torrential beauty, a shock and awe of natural wonder I’d never witnessed before.

When I was six years old, I went away for the summer to a camp in the mountains, my first exposure to the mountains.  I remember my first mountain storm as clearly as the ‘ah ha’ of learning to ride a bike.  Sitting inside a cabin, watching from a window for an hour, the storm moved across the sky, vibrating my little body.  It was the first of many such experiences.  I went to that summer mountain camp, far from home, every year for most of my youth, witnessing many storms, sometimes seeking shelter from their surprise and quickness.

I’ve observed great summer storms in the wide skies of the mid-West.  But this storm was a thing of utmost beauty.  As I lay outside, sheltered with a wide view, the never-ending play of light, dark, deep resonance, moving in slow rhythm across the sky rivaled any natural wonder I’ve ever witnessed.   Like good music, soon I was a participant.  The storm lifted me up into it.  The dog sat nearby on the lawn, equally awed, sometimes moving out of the brief periods of rain to shelter.

By 4:00 am, having dozed in and out of sleep, Koda and I moved inside for better rest.  He let me know his preferences by coming over and nuzzling me as if to say the show was over.  I felt like thanking someone–the orchestra’s expertise, the conductor’s skill, the patient audience of this thin lithospheric crust of life.  It was only natural.

Thank whoever it is you thank that man has not learned, and never will learn, to control the weather.  It is one of the last of wild nature we have before us, to humble, to remember the sacred.  Our own wildness, the essence of who we are, is precisely contacted  in the midst of events such as these.  I bow down.  It is only natural.

3 Responses

  1. Nice. I was backpacking and camped at treeline (c. 9,000 feet when our end of that front blew through. Nothing dry about it, though! Not much lightning, though. As you say, we should embrace more of nature beyond our control. Unfortunately, we control many of the things we should not, and do not care to control many our negative actions…


  2. I just discovered your blog and I like it. I love reading what other’s experience in different wild parts of the country.

    Yes, it is wonderful to realize that in the end human’s really control very little that is very important. Oddly, dispite all of our efforts, we seem to be incapable of even controlling our own destiny.

    Weather is the best reminder of how little we can control when mother nature wants to take over. I love the feeling of not controlling things, the fact that there is an unknown that must be dealt with.

    Thank you.

    Bill; http://www.wildramblings.com


  3. Your writing is so beautiful and real, Leslie. Thank you for being you, and for giving voice to such deep refreshment for my soul.


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