I remember staring west, waiting and watching as the sun dipped below the tree tops, below the street that curved to meet our driveway at the top of the hill. I heard it then — groaning, rumbling, rushing. At any moment, I expected to see great giants crash through the three line to trample my house and my family.
“Do you hear that?” I asked my brother. “It changes, but I hear it every night.”
“It’s just the trees growing,” my father said.
Later, I learned that, whether it was air masses colliding or the pounding of my pulse in my ears, the sound was thunder. Now, when I hear either one, I think, It’s just the trees growing, and I’m not afraid.
Clouds blanket the sky. Everything is saturated and squishy, but I take pleasure in the sharp contrasts found only when the land is drenched. Wet like this, things appear to exist more. The world looks skewed, as if I have been transported to a realm similar to my own but where every color is deeper, bolder, richer. Everything is off-set just a bit, distances seem further, and the empty spaces, emptier.
The tree bark is almost as black as the asphalt. Where they reach into the puffy, gray sky, more naked branches, limbs, and twigs of the white oak are visible in the tops of the trees. The ultra-green of the pine needles glows when compared to the trunks. The vinca blossoms are purpler, the fallen leaves burnt orange instead of dry, dull brown. The tiny, dripping leaves of the boxwoods seemed livelier, and the dormant grass, a warmer shade of beige.
I first felt this shift, this different realm, as a child. I pulled my mother outside and said, “Look how different everything is!”
“It’s just wet, honey,” she said and went back inside the house.
She didn’t see. Confounded by her reaction, I focused harder, trying to see the world as it had been when dry. I couldn’t. I never have been able to, and I wonder how anyone with eyes can.