Strikes

A wild night in the skies, starting at nearly the stroke of midnight, when a lightning storm moved in overhead and commenced to pound the tree tops for over an hour. I sat under new skylights in the living room and watched this continuous display of flash and booming thunder. I seldom see a lightning storm here, maybe once or twice a year, and some years none at all. Last night must have had forty or fifty pretty good strikes. After this electrical chaos moved further away, I went back to observing more sleep, only to be awakened within the hour by a heavy persistent rain. I had no idea air can carry so much water.

Yesterday I had been reading one writer’s description of the difference between the art of Mozart and Beethoven. Now that I have purchased a new piano for the misses to play, I have become more interested in music composition, so was equating in my mind this past evening which pieces of the storm might have been written by each of these two composers. My knowledge of classical music is embarrassingly skimpy, but I would say that the initial big strikes of thunder that continued to roll on for a length of time as they shook my little house were closer to a Beethoven theme. Mozart music last night then would come from the softer sound of the rain hitting the roof in a more delicate and rhythmic pattern. I heard moments when both styles of composition would come together and interplay with each other, but never with such precision as the human masters. I did consider though that such a storm as this may have been the chief inspiration for ancient music makers. Percussion, wind, string–an entire symphony entertaining me for an evening.

Some time while I slept the storm completely moved out of the area. This morning I see puddles all around the house and water pouring out of the hill side behind me. A neighbor’s lingering fire sends smoke from the chimney up through a gap of blue in the forest. All close by must have been up late last night watching the spectacle. Morning sun mixed with a mistiness works slowly but persistently to dry us out.

What is it that causes one day or night to be much more memorable than another? I can read journal entries I wrote only two or three years ago and they seem to have been written by someone other than me. I know the words are mine, but the events of that day have long passed my recollection. Even yesterday’s grandest moments already slip by me so quickly, and certainly those of two or three days ago have almost completely slipped from my radar. Trying to recall some of the finer details of a day that has passed is rather like pouring a glass of water into the sea and scooping that same glassful back out again.

For me, when nature is doing something out of the ordinary, whether the earth is quaking or the heavens storming, the sea rising or the creeks overflowing, the events tend to give me a more lasting impression. Last night during the height of the lightning strikes, the misses and I could clearly remember an evening of forty years ago when camping within view of the Grand Tetons outside Jackson, Wyoming, and awaking in the middle of the night to watch a spectacular electrical display among the jagged peaks.

Keeping a journal is quite an exercise in subjectivity. I try to write about experiences as a means of preserving them and of interpreting their significance, but so much unrecorded, unexamined living goes on. I must be satisfied this day to say that last night was one of intense lightning without going further to describe the design of each flash or strike.

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