Today was our last day in the Hudson Valley. The week has been ideal in terms of family companionship, relaxation, work time and professional reading, physical recovery, culinary fun, accommodations, and weather. We had a bit of rain, but it never got in the way of our plans. I went out walking on the beautiful rolling roads every day, building my stamina to four miles at a brisk pace. Today’s walk was the most exciting, because a major thunderstorm was brewing and I was determined to complete the loop before the rains came.
The photo above was taken at approximately the 3-mile mark. By that time, the rumbling in the sky was unmistakably closer and the wind had picked up substantially. I love love love the energy in the air in the moments before a summer storm; the smell, the temperature shift, the color changes in the sky, the literal charge—LOVE it. I stood there at the top of the hill trying to focus the camera on my cell phone, feeling absolutely giddy. With a mile to go, I figured I’d be perfectly safe, if slightly soggy, when I got back to the house.
Walking in the Dutchess County hills this morning, I was caught between the immediacy of the moment and a collection of memories from 30 years ago. For three summers in high school and early college, I was the aquatics director at the country club in my hometown on the north shore of Massachusetts. The club sat at the mouth of a tidal river, and I was responsible for closing the pool when there was a thunderstorm. My vantage point above the river and the knowledge gained from a lifetime of summers on the local beaches usually gave me an accurate sense of whether or not a storm would hit my location. I could watch the clouds build over the ocean and the marsh, gauge the way the flag moved in the wind, and smell the salt and ozone in the air. I would make my decision and spring into action, closing up the pool chairs, checking the chemical balance one more time, and locking the doors. Then I would jump on my bicycle and gamble that I could reach my house, which was four miles away, down a dirt road, up one hill, over a bridge, and then over another hill. Sometimes I made it; most times I didn’t. And on the days that the rains came before I got home, it didn’t really matter. How exhilarating is it to be 17, 18, 19 years old, riding a bike in the pouring rain down the wide main street of a rural town in the middle of the afternoon? When you are wearing deck shoes, a bathing suit, old shorts and a T-shirt, who cares if you get wet?
Five minutes after I took that photo today, I saw The Husband’s car cruising down the road. He and The Boy had come to my rescue! Just as we pulled into the driveway, the rain started. For about half an hour, we were directly underneath one of the most brilliant, ferocious, torrential storms I have experienced this season. The power went on and off half a dozen times, thunder cracked like gunshots, and the water pressure from the rain made the drops sound like metal pellets. It was thrilling.
We sat and watched for awhile. The Boy and I had an excellent snuggle during the loudest peals of thunder. Then we packed ourselves up and got ready to go home. As we were loading the car, the sun came out.
And now, here we are, back in our own house, listening to the crickets outside.