Some summer storms whip up out of nowhere and leave us sort of chastised in our squishy sandals and dripping hair. Inconvenient bullies, they stake their ground directly over our fun and rage incoherently until we grab our soggy picnic food and flee to drier ground.
Other storms, though, grow like magic over open fields, explode in thunderous ovations and dance elegantly with nimble trees as we watch from the relative safety our creaky porch swing.
We got a taste of both Wednesday as a fickle front moved through Northern Wisconsin.
First, the clouds darkened like house lights before the curtain rise on a big show and we obediently took our seats. Then came the wind, and an opening act of attitude and arabesques among the tall oaks and bendy pines. We enjoyed the contrast between the whipping trees and calm river for a while, until the rains came barreling down and the headline performance really got underway.
From the front porch of our cabin on the edge of the woods, we enjoyed excellent seats and I wondered where all the animals we’d seen over the past few days – a baby beaver, two bald eagles, a lumbering bear, several deer, turkeys, geese, ducks and a couple of sandhill cranes – had sheltered from the storm and whether they were watching us watch the rain.
We heard a little thunder, and saw a couple of good lightning streaks, but this storm really featured the rain. It swept in fiercely and smelled like spring.
We stayed at the cabin until the storm had run its course, and then made our way home. At a gas station, I chatted with a motorcycle driver who was quite pleased with himself for the timing of his pit stop.
“I timed ‘er perfectly,” he said. “Saw her building about five miles away and I knew I could make it here.”
He’d waited out the storm at the gas station and then took off for Pickerel.
“I’m glad I timed it right,” he said. “I hate to get wet.”
Not ten minutes later, as Molly and I made our way back down highway 22, the skies opened up and another storm drenched the streets. I wondered about my new friend, the motorcycle driver, who still had about another 45 miles to go to Pickerel.
But that’s the thing about summer storms. You can’t get too cocky. Just when you think you have them all figured out, they rile up and blast you.again.
And here’s a little taste of what it all looks like from the gentle rocking of the porch swing: