Driving in the rain is one of the best things in the world, right up there with beer and turkey legs and em-dashes. So imagine my delight when I found a video on my old phone of me--driving in the rain at night. Of course I posted the found video to Youtube, where it joined one of me driving in the rain during the day that I posted several years ago. And another of me enjoying the sublimity of a sudden thunderstorm....
Last Sunday night I went for a walk in the storm and it was an encounter with the sublime—wind, rain, emptiness, the singing of toads. At the same time the sublimity of the night was tempered by knowing how incredibly destructive the storm was/is.
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We had a big round of storms come through here on May 20th—storms that were bigger and more deadly elsewhere, but still big here. I took the screen grab to the left—the radar showing a tornado-producing cell bearing down on Pittsburg. I posted the picture to Facebook, and an old friend commented, “Tell me you have a plan.”
A plan? Me? I'm an improvisationalist, or try to be.
But I did have a plan, kinda.
I like my house a lot—it’s comfortable and pleasant at all times. But it’s not tornado-proof. And there are no inside, windowless rooms in which to hide. What then should I do to sit out the cyclone?
The car is in the garage, right? A room faced on three sides by other rooms, with one big opening on the outside, but shut the garage door and you’re totally inside. And if you’re in the car, seat-belted and air-bagged, you're doubly inside. Right? Maybe. So I grabbed jump bag with my meds and books and Dr. Pepper, and a flash drive with my current writing (also saved to Dropbox), and I tossed it all in the car.
After a few minutes, the community tornado sirens went off. I did not get in the car. I stood out on the porch and watched the storm.
Yeah, I was one of those dumb people who stand outside gawking at the storm. But the storm of course was sublime!
Also—big world, small tornado.
My neighbors have a tornado bunker, and they ran and hid. Here they are after the all-clear was sounded….
I suppose that if I stood on the porch and saw the tornado coming, I'd have time to go jump in the car and strap in. But maybe not.
At any rate, here is some appropriate music....
I drove to Conroe yesterday—drove through the much needed downpour of rain, thunder and lightning sublime!—for the annual Walt Whitman Birthday Celebration (Walt's birthday is of course the 31st, but this is Texas—we can celebrate it whenever we want). It's a great event: Lone Star College brings in Whitman experts for an afternoon lecture/discussion—this year, CK Williams—and then, in the evening, writers gather at a pub to read Whitman poems.
I read “An Old Man’s Thought of School”
An old man’s thought of School;
An old man, gathering youthful memories and blooms, that youth itself cannot.
Now only do I know you!
O fair auroral skies! O morning dew upon the grass!
And these I see—these sparkling eyes,
These stores of mystic meaning—these young lives,
Building, equipping, like a fleet of ships—immortal ships!
Soon to sail out over the measureless seas,
On the Soul’s voyage.
Only a lot of boys and girls?
Only the tiresome spelling, writing, ciphering classes?
Only a Public School?
Ah more—infinitely more;
(As George Fox rais’d his warning cry, “Is it this pile of brick and mortar—these dead floors, windows, rails—you call the church?
Why this is not the church at all—the Church is living, ever living Souls.”)
And you, America,
Cast you the real reckoning for your present?
The lights and shadows of your future—good or evil?
To girlhood, boyhood look—the Teacher and the School.
Drove home under clear night skies with a bit of moon up there—also sublime.