Dec. 10: The storm

Stockton Todd Holden

December 16, 1992|By Stockton Todd Holden

HOWLING winds hurl cold rain from the southeast, then, suddenly, directly from the south. Lids to the containers in which I keep the cracked corn for the chickens are scattered to the wet darkness.

My 15-foot canoe is gone from its usual resting spot near the abandoned kennel. I don't know where the canoe is, and right now I don't care because I'm too involved in this moment of nature's outrage, its swift pulse.

For these moments, standing inside the rain, I am one with it. I surrender to it. For these moments I don't really care what happens to me. Nature has me, can have me -- perhaps, the thought strikes, doesn't want me.

There is a sweeping rhythm to this conflagration of Dec. 9 and 10, this thing they call a "storm" but that deserves more. Other storms were storms, too, but this? This is different!

It started with a full moon, a moon that was eclipsed. Then the next morning snow fell, making the roads slippery and treacherous for pedestrians and motorists alike. Now, after the snow and the ice-mist that followed all day long, causing the snow to trickle into little streams, come the winds and more rain, rain in pellets, stinging your face as you try to stare into its face.

Now come the howling calls of south wind to southeast wind. They howl as the tulip poplars and spindly oaks bend and stretch with the aching groans of old men getting up in the morning after stiffening up overnight. The trees seem to ache to pull their roots up and topple in surrender, allowing the winds to win this skirmish.

This is not the soft summer day of lying on a bed of soybeans and watching the red-tails ride thermals to the sun.

Nor is it a day for the cooling waters of the pond, where the big bass escape the heat and your bottom, when you sit in it, feels the chill of the spring water that feeds it.

Nor a day for warm winds caressing the wetlands and the evening lyrics of spring peepers, easing the stress and wafting you to the land of nod.

No, tonight's script is hand-to-hand combat with the gods of Thor and perhaps the devil himself. Tonight is not for sissies, but for fools like me who do not care to know the personal dangers when the spectacle is good for the soul.

Is this the moon's response to the eclipse? I don't know or care. I only know that right now, in this outlandish moment of fear and discovery there is no other place for me than here in the face of things out of control, things so filled with excitement.

How long will it last?

How long will you stay in love? How long will you live? What new and lasting friend will you meet tomorrow? Does any of this matter at this moment? This is nature showing us there is more to life than good books, sex and rock 'n' roll.

This is real, this is now, this is rare and filled with amazement and humility. Perhaps death will come like this, too.

Stockton Todd Holden lives near Bel Air, where he runs a photography studio.

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