We had a really beautiful day a couple of Tuesdays ago. It got hot again and muggy. Not as bad as the week before but not great. The sky was clear at dawn but the cumulus had slowly been building up. By lunchtime there were some pretty dark clouds in the west. I went out at one o’clock and as I stood at the bus-stop I heard a rumble of thunder and felt a raindrop on my arm.
It’s a short bus ride into Woy Woy from my place. By the time the bus got to the station the breeze had started to blow. A cool refreshing breeze but not strong enough yet to blow away the flies. By the time I got to the library round the corner the breeze was a wind. The date palms outside the library rustled and people looked up at them and listened to the sound.
From inside the library I could see the tops of the trees behind the Post Office tossing and the agapanthus in the library courtyard were nodding and bowing. I bunged my stuff through the photocopier and went back out into it. The wind was stronger again. The street was clearing, people were scampering for coffee shops and cars. Leaves were flying through the air and forming drifts across the road. The main cloud, with the storms in it, was coming down from the Hunter Valley in the north. There was also some low dark wispy cloud coming in from the south-east. It was moving fast. Cloud normally moves fast in a storm but this cloud was coming in at running speed. I stood at the Post Office and stared at it in the gap between the old Fire Station and the supermarket.
I was finished in town so I walked home. I wanted to stay out in the wind. There’d been a couple more drops while I stood outside the Post Office. As I walked along some more fell. Cool wet silver drops that hit hard. The sun was coming and going in the gaps between the clouds and it lit them perfectly. Against the hill of Phegan’s Bay and the black cloud above it they looked white.
As I walked along the symphony of the wind in the trees changed constantly. It gusted and the trees it gusted through changed. There was the soft constant background of the street trees (gums) and shifting over them the sound of different trees in front yards. Palms at that old white house, a maple a few houses further along, the liquidambar, a frangipani in full leaf and a waft of scent from its wet flowers, the silvery rustle of a lilac tree and the faint clatter of the rain on the leaves of a huge old rose bush.
The thunder came again and the scent of the wet earth started to rise just as I got my key in my front door. Every now and then a dog left out a brief bark but most of them were hiding with their paws over their ears.
By half past two it was storm dark. The palm outside my bathroom window clattered and I could hear the thunder every now and then and the snap of a sheet on a clothesline somewhere nearby. The rain came down suddenly. A beautiful noise on next door’s tin roof. When the wind gusted it pattered on my balcony and on the leaves of my geraniums. God, it was a beautiful afternoon.