Monday, May 25, 2009


Officially, summer is a month away. But we're already seeing hot days that suck moisture out of the earth and give it back in the form of afternoon thunderstorms with whip-crack lightening and driving rain. This afternoon, when I saw the bottom of the clouds turning blue, I figured that if I were going to go out for some two-wheeled therapy, it had better be now. I was right. I was just finishing my ride when the cumuli overhead started their bombing run just as I pulled the bike into the garage.

I stood on the back porch and watched it rain. The wind wrestled with tops of the trees for about 30 minutes, then the pines stopped swaying and the sun came out and it was over. Just like that!

Don't know why, but I have always loved to watch violent weather.

Five years ago, I stood on a beach during the approach of a Florida hurricane... Charley, I think. I leaned into the 75-mile-per-hour wind like a sky diver.... feet spread wide apart, hovering at a 70-degree angle to the ground. A police cruiser came by and motioned me over. He told me they were going to close the high-rise bridge and that I should move inland. I felt a little embarrassed. I had become one of those guys the Weather Channel reporters derided for not seeking shelter.

In September 1996 I watched Hurricane Fran roar over our house in North Carolina. It was dark, but there was enough light to see pine trees bend like tall grass in the wind. One minute, the wind was howling and the trees were bent almost double. Then, suddenly, the wind just stopped. The trees straightened in unison like a troupe of dancers done with a routine. The eye of the storm was passing over. The skies cleared and stars actually came out briefly. The calm lasted about 10 minutes. Then I heard the roar of the wind coming back, this time blowing in the opposite direction, the trees again submitting to its will.