In Hope of Thunder

Summer has arrived with a vengeance – a heavy blanket of dusty heat has descended on us. The cat has melted into a black puddle in the dust and cedar needles. Eyes closed, he is waiting, somewhere between consciousness and sleep, for the evening wind to rise and release him from the sweltering heat.

The shutters on our old building have all creaked closed in unison against the omnipresent heat and glaring sunshine. Behind them, in the gloomy coolness of the thick, nineteenth century walls, the older generation living on either side of us has gone to bed for the sacrosanct siesta until the heat-imposed curfew is over. To my left, memories of the good old days are no doubt being selected and revived in ageing but agile minds. To my right, I suspect that the perfect revenge is being concocted for these idealistic newcomers with too much enthusiasm for their own good.

The washing hangs rigid and still on the line, baking in the heat that rises from the dusty ground. Cicadas scratch away relentlessly in the pine trees behind the house, a constant and audible reminder of the suffocating heat. Towards nightfall, they will grudgingly give way to the nurse toads and frogs and their lazy, night-time concerto of whistles and chattering.

Clouds are gathering now, expanding like sky-born shaving foam. The trees are motionless. Nature seems to be holding its breath in expectation, in the hope of rainfall. “Maybe tonight….” the garden seems to whisper.

I also long to hear the distant rumbles of thunder and see the sky light up tonight. I will get out of bed and pad barefoot down the corridor in the dark, enjoying the basic, primal pleasure of walking on the cool tiles. Then I will step on to the balcony, and watch the storm approach as the pine trees sway in anticipation. My skin will prickle as the chilly storm air hurries past me into the house to announce the imminent arrival of redemption from the heat. I smile: peine perdue, my friend. The sleeping occupants are busy chasing dreams, and will not notice your presence at their sides.

lightning from Hell

Photo credit: phani_astronomy®

I will count in my head after each lightning flash: one elephant, two elephants, three elephants…. before the rumble and crash of the thunder. I will enjoy watching nature’s self-indulgent show as the blue and white streaks rip the night sky from top to bottom, tearing a strip out of the dark blanket wrapped around our world and illuminating the night for a few seconds. I will laugh at Mother Nature as she cheekily switches the lights on and off in this world we mistakenly believe we can control.

When the first drops of rain fall on my face, I will return to bed, and listen to the rain and the soft swishing of the cedar branches as they brush against each other. Goosebumps  will appear on my skin as the thunder rumbles away across the sky towards other awaiting storm lovers.

The plants will silently and gratefully soak up their long-awaited nightcap, and the amphibian concerto will start up again with renewed enthusiasm. I will breathe in the heady smell of wet earth as the cool breeze blows across me. Then I will pull the sheet over myself, smile, and fall asleep again.

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37 thoughts on “In Hope of Thunder

  1. Wonderfully written MM! I could see the lightning striking across the sky, smell that pre and after storm scent and feel that breeze… I too love to watch a thunder storm and breathe in it’s atmosphere! 🙂

  2. Beautifully written. Well done. I am melting here waiting for a break in this weather. We listened to the forecast this evening and the neighbours could be forgiven for thinking we had been given very bad news such was the wail I let out when dear forecaster “Evelyn” told us there would not be even a cloud until after next week end!!!!

  3. I’m glad it’s not as hot as that here….but I do remember the relief of a thunderstorm in the summer heat of France…especially when the heat had been constant for enough weeks to get through the metre thick stone walls of the house.
    You brought it all back so vividly.

    • MM, the blogger who storms the world…. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it! The heat here is a bugger to handle- I’ve got a strictly timed window and shutter procedure to get cool air into the house and locked up before the heat sets in. If I forget even one window, I’m sunk. Slave to the sun, who’d have thought it?

    • Cheers, young man 🙂 You’re going through the same thing, I feel less lonely. I think that you, Tric and I should have a glass of chilled rosé wine to cool off in our respective homes. I love my life in France, but I’d like a bit of respite from the heat from time to time. to have my brioche and eat it, as Marie-Antoinette didn’t have the time to say….

  4. counting elephants between the lightening flash and the sound of thunder – I’d totally forgotten I used to do that when I was a kid 😆

    think I’ll join you with that chilled wine – heat’s a bugger here too !

    • Ok, we’ll all move up a bit. The balcony’s gonna be crowded but the more the merrier, hey? 🙂 I love counting elephants- there’s even some kind of wierd calculation combining elephants and the speed of sound and light to find out how far away the lightening struck. I just use it to see if the storm’s coming my way or not 🙂

  5. Really nicely written! I do love a good summer thunderstorm… they seem to keep threatening at the moment, we get the thunder and lightning, but they never quite materialise. I’d forgotten about the elephant counting, must start doing that again!

    • Murky buckets ! (I’m running out of synonyms for “thank you” here… ) The storms are elusive buggers, aren’t they? Always choosing another village to get wet. Pfft. We need to start an international elephant-counting club. After a glass of rosé or two on the balcony, we will be able to call it the Pink Elephant Club. 😀

  6. Wonderfully evocative writing, MM, even though I’m not accustomed to the level of heat which makes one long for a storm to cool things down. Having said that it’s really rather warm up here in Manche and I gather we may possibly be getting the odd thunderstorm next weekend. As long as it comes with enough rain to save my having to water the flowers, that’s fine by me. 🙂

  7. Beautifully written MM. We watched a glorious lightning show from our balcony last night, but no thunder and no rain. All show and no go I’ve never heard the elephant thing before, though I lived in the UK long enough. Here we say, one Mississippi, two Mississippi, but that wouldn’t make much sense in Europe, not that you have elephants in France. Have you got any room left on your balcony?

    • Thank you!! Lucky you, you got half of the show. Here nothing on the horizon, but at least the locals have stopped partying all night so I can leave the window open (more about that story soon).Mississippi, huh? American seconds are longer than British ones! Of course there’s room if we all squeeze up a bit!!

      • Just butting in (surprise, surprise;-) ) to say that I grew up in Lancashire counting Mississippi 1, Mississippi 2, etc. How my parents learnt it, I have no idea. 🙂

  8. Beautifully written post, really enjoyed the atmosphere you built up. Hope you’ve had your storm by now??? ps we always said ‘1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi…’ in Gloucestershire too!

    • Thanks 🙂 I finally got half a storm today, but at my in-law’s place… on the Côte d’Azur. You know, the place you DON’T go for storms because your kids prefer sunshine on the beach. Sigh. What, Moi? Never happy? 😉

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