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[CRASHING THE GATE]

by Brian Clarey

Another column about the rain

I woke this morning to another rainstorm, this one marked by a soft roar outside my bedroom window that rose and fell with the winds.

Since the weather got warm here in the Triad, I believe I’ve seen just about every type of rainstorm there is: thin sprinkles that crescendoed into electric maelstroms, blustery brawlers that rumbled for an hour before they struck hard, slow-moving behemonths hat parked over the city for days, storms that came out of nowhere and storms that never hit.

We’ve had more of them than I can remember over the last decade; the creeks swell with the bounty and the lawns grow lush.

It’s good for the flora and good for the fauna — a population surge of beetles has recently made itself known on my property, which in turn has fed this year’s generation of angry jays; the ones that torture my cats via dive-bombs and squawks do so this summer with a new vigor. They’re killing it with earthworms, as well, which rise to the surface after a rain, wash onto the patio and lay stranded in the new sun.

It’s bad for the worms, but I suppose it’s good for us humans, too.

A good, swift rainstorm demands acknowledgement and enforces a pause in the day’s agenda, sometimes an entire restructuring, sometimes just a moment when you walk to the door and step outside just to see for yourself how hard it’s coming down.

It invites stillness and introspection, especially when the satellite signal has gone out and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

When I was a kid on Long Island, sometimes a dark summer storm would roll in suddenly and hover over the area for what seemed like weeks. A few miles south on the coast, the weather changed every couple of hours. You could wait one of those out in even the most rudimentary of shelters.

I left there a long time ago, and as of this week, when my parents move to Greensboro, I don’t believe I’ll be going back anytime soon.

When I left I did so without hesitation, an 18-year-old not nearly as sophisticated as I thought I was, ready to seek my way in the world without any of the baggage I’d accumulated thus far in my life. I didn’t know then that you can’t run away from that stuff.

Part of my cavalier posture was fed by the knowledge that the place I grew up would always be there. That, too rings false against the wisdom of the years.

In New Orleans, the summer rains slammed in fast and hard, blitzkriegs of water and wind that hit just about every afternoon to wash the morning’s heat off the day, breaking up as suddenly as they came — sometimes there weren’t even clouds.

By late summer, the hurricanes would form in the gulf and occasionally drift across the city. It used to be kind of fun — not so much anymore, from what I hear.

Sometimes, back then, I’d stand right there in the downpour, but I soon found that heavy summer rain played best when viewed from a covered balcony or porch.

It was harder for me to leave New Orleans than it was New York. I was older, certainly a part of it, and about to embark on a venture with higher stakes, with a heightened awareness of the risks and rewards.

As we drove out of town, we encountered a column of motorcycles going the other way, long enough to stretch across Lake Pontchartrain and beyond. I swear, there must have been a thousand of them: the full spectrum of biker culture streaming into town literally the moment I left.

Make of it what you will. I didn’t look back then, but the rain has a way of bringing back to life those people and places that don’t exist anymore, that passed through my life like a storm.

Or, possibly, I was the storm. Starting to lose my metaphor here. But bear with me.

The rain kept up through the morning, followed by a few hours of the sun’s brilliance before the low black clouds swept in like a thin herd of malevolent zeppelins. I knew the rain was coming. It always does.

It will come down in a light spritz at first, then build into fat drops that splatter like soft grapes on a windshield before the winds kick in, swaying the boughs of the big trees against the cubist skyline, sweeping water across the concrete like waves.

Perhaps there will be lightning to break open the sky.

Fine by me. Can’t do anything about the weather, anyway. Might as well get to a covered porch and kick back, wait for it to all play out.

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