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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Happy (07/12/07)

TITLE: July Storm


I had to get home. We’d been soaking in the river all afternoon, letting the hundred degree heat of the day leak out of us into the water. But I knew my garden at home was bone dry, and needed a good long drink before everything just up and died from my neglect. A nascent thunderstorm was stirring up the big cedars on the shore, and I heard another soaker mutter something about hail being predicted. I should cover my zucchini plants.
At home, I went straight from the car into my garden, still in my damp swimsuit and sarong. The light was stormy, that weird, greenish, coming from the wrong angle light. The garden seemed lit from within. The grown up asparagus swirled around like a miniature forest. Everything was still very green, but getting so dry. I wandered in the lush grass between the raised beds, just looking at everything in that surreal light. I spied a red strawberry under the asparagus trees and popped it in my mouth. The lack of water concentrated the flavor—a perfect mouthful of pleasure. The bean vines had grown about two inches since yesterday, and were beginning to twine around the wrought iron tower my mom had given me. Rainbow chard and branching broccoli, cosmos and sweet peas, cabbage and summer squash. I picked and ate a few sugar pod peas. Bright purple Johnny-jump-ups peeked out everywhere. I never can bring myself to pull them out. The corn was still not knee high, but looked healthy. Various squash and melon seeds from the compost were popping up between corn plants, and I left them, too, feeling like I was doing the Native American three sisters thing. What was the third crop? Beans. Oh, those were over growing up the iron tower.
After a last lingering look around, wishing I could just lie in the grass and do the storm from right there, I reluctantly left the garden and closed the gate behind me. The storm clouds were right overhead now, but I started the sprinkler anyway. You can’t trust July thunderstorms to have any actual water in them.
The storm ratcheted up a couple of levels while the take-and-bake pizza was cooking. The timing was perfect; we had just sat in our green plastic chairs on the front porch with our chicken garlic special when the lightning started to crackle over the sky. Thunder boomed all around us. Our old dog jumped to attention. She used to be a bold thunder chaser, but this summer she just gets all vigilant, standing rigid in her guard dog pose. Too much effort anymore to actually chase something she never catches.
The wind, cool and damp and swirly, woke up my wind chimes. Their mellow tones harmonized exquisitely with the breeze making the treetops sing, and the thunder cracking. How could I bear it, so happy? And then it started to rain. Big drops. Lots. I didn’t trust it at first, but after a while I went out and shut off the sprinkler, enjoying the splat of the fat drops on my head and arms, lingering, a little afraid of the lightning, but just enough to feel intensely alive.
Soon the lightning softened to creamy sheets, like camera flashes in another room. The thunder took longer to catch up, and the wind chimes murmured quietly to themselves. The show was over. I stood up and stretched, and went in the house. It was finally cooler outside than in, so we opened all the windows to let evening breezes whisk away the house’s stifling heat. When did it get so dark? I hadn’t noticed. Time to go to bed and dream of asparagus forests and strawberries, wind chimes and old dogs.

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This article has been read 452 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dee Yoder 07/20/07
Wow, like a summer day just opened up on my computer screen. I very much enjoyed reading this story. Refreshing as the summer storm you described so well!
Judith Hope07/21/07
This is a feast:

of images, of steady strong writing, of senses, of emotions and beautifully descriptive. I am completely captured by it, and dont want to leave either!

It's sensational!
Lynda Schultz 07/21/07
Wonderful description — I felt like I was right there —or I certainly wish I was! Good work.
Kristen Hester07/22/07
Nice word picture. Good job and good descriptions.