Sometime in the early morning hours of Aug. 18, I was aware of a familiar rumbling sound outside. My house was built in 1910 and is fairly impervious to outside noise. They knew how to build them to last in those days. The stucco construction of the walls is like cement. I checked my cell phone watch app I keep within arm’s reach — 2:55 a.m. I waited, a single flash on inter-cloud lightning. I began counting — a second rumble within 20 seconds. The flash was approximately 4 miles distant — 2:59 a.m. Aha. The approaching cold front had evidently arrived as predicted according to mathematical formulas modern forecasters use to predict weather events days ahead and, with it, a welcome relief in our persistent drought. A steady light rain began later.
Former memories of my years working in the Clearwater region in northern Idaho came to mind. At times, about the middle of August, such steady rains would be preceded by a general pattern of thundershowers over the backcountry of the Bitterroot. A general feeling of serenity would spread throughout the region as activity quieted down. There was the feeling of wonderful isolation. The rain would dampen any new fire activity initiated by lightning. If there was nothing going on, I would lay back in the seat of my pickup and absorb nature’s forerunner of transition from the summer’s heat.
I enjoy summer, but the quiet that comes over the land in late August and early September is often subtle. It is felt as well as visually sensed. There’s a certain sadness felt as summer and its activities wane. It is noticed in the changing quality of light in the sky and the woods. We are part of the cycle. There is a need to reconnect. Life goes on. This is what I felt as I looked outside in the early daylight and saw that steady rain.