(John Prine reference)
When I was a child I would infrequently find myself alone with mom on a weekday. I don't know why. As the oldest of six, I presume I was sick while all of them were off to school (she was never acquitted or even accused of burying her young and as far as I know they are all alive and kicking, some of us more alive and kicking than others, but none of us dirt inspectors while she has, regrettably, become a member of that dreadful occupation).
I bring this up because it is currently raging rain and thunder and lightening and I like it. There are weather scripts floating across the bottom of the television, telling us that this is serious even if they screwed up so that their annoying beepers don't work at the moment, Still, they say, there may be tornadoes anywhere from here to, oh, I don't know...THERE. They wonder why we die, why we don't take them seriously, when this is the best they can do.
When I was home for whatever reason, I remember my mom ironing clothes on a real ironing board with real starch and a sprayer of water. She would sing. Doris Day, Ricky Nelson, Elvis, people I have no recollection of. And I would stare through the front window, spattered with raindrops, and watch the little kids outside splashing in the puddles in the street, and would have just this wonderful epiphany of sensation, the sight, the sound, the smell, the touch.
Smelling my mom's work, the starch and steam, and probably a pot of chicken noodle soup on the stove, maybe a grilled cheese sandwich; the sound, the sound of the hissing iron, the plopping of raindrops against the window, the imaginary laughter of the kids splashing in the street, my mom's singing or maybe humming, the creaking of the ironing board as she pressed her red hot applicance against it; the sight, in that dark room, of children in the street doing what I wanted to do but could not do, the sight of what I came to know as melancholy, something I defined, personally, as a good feeling of sadness; the touch of fingers and lips against the moist window, the touch that is an atmosphere, where you can feel the happy gloom, the dark light, are enveloped by this environment as if it were a womb of comfort and confusion.
Melancholy and happiness, warmth and loneliness.
Contradictions that seem to fit like pieces to the puzzle that is the enigma of existence. I adopted the word and made it my own and gave it my own definition, this word, melancholy, because I knew of no other word to describe being happily sad, sadly happy, warm and lonely.
Tonight there is thunder and heavy lightening and great rain, and I recall that day with my mom.
John Muir was a hero of mine early on. I learned that he would climb trees in Alabama to experience hurricanes as they blew through and thought this was admirable. Still do. I've been known to go out into such storms to capture the power of nature personally. Nature had never let me down.
Tonight, I stayed inside. The dog took his turns between huddling next to me and finding mama when the crackling got too serious even for confidence in me. The cat sat outside until the winds picked up and then cried to come in, even if I know such behavior embarrases her. To his credit, when I decided on a whim to take recyclables out in the midst of it, Cody (the dog) came out with me, although admittedly his attempts to go to the bathroom were half-hearted at best.
People take pictures. Some of them, some of my friends, even, take fantastic photos, wonderful photos, beautiful photos, photos that I can only imagine taking if I had a butterfly or a flower that I could order around like a hired model. But nothing captures nature like being in it, especially when it is being special, when it is being its most powerful, glorious, bestial best.
I don't know why I brought this up.
Oh, this isn't the reason, but I got my teeth cleaned yesterday. I swore I would have nothing done until and unless I got positive (good) results from my last CT scan. I did. My teeth are clean. My lungs are purportedly clean.
I spent some time in the rain, fearless of the lightning.