63.3 F

Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Column: Supplicant to the storm

I hope all of you had a pleasant Picnic Day. I was about as responsible as you might expect. I broke my friend’s bike, misused my cell phone, fell into a rose bush and lost a pair of sunglasses. All in about a minute. (Just kidding. It took me nearly 15 minutes to get all that checked off the list.)

But enough about Picnic Day. I’m sure there is someone out there that had a way better day than I did, and there are probably some of you out there that somehow ended up in the drunk tank. A bummer, but that’s the way it goes.

Anyway, I was at work the other day jamming out to The Eagle 96.9 when it started raining before upgrading to a storm full of thunder and hail. I was intrigued by the storm because it had been pretty sunny an hour or so before, and I couldn’t remember the last time it hailed in Davis. I listened to the icy shrapnel clatter against the greenhouses where I work.

Then, nearly as fast as the storm began, the slate gray clouds vanished into the north. The day was bright again, titanic clouds churning brilliantly in the wide blue sky. I love bright clouds after a rainstorm. They were cumulonimbus, maybe. Or just cumulous. Nimbus? I guess I don’t know shit about clouds.

I was way down with the way the storm came and went. Entirely sunny days are all right, and an entirely stormy day is a total drag unless you’ve got a good setup. What would be a good setup, you inquire? I don’t know. Maybe a stormy day spent in a secluded mountain cabin with a roaring fireplace, pot roast, mashed potatoes, a fifth of whiskey and Parker Posey. (That’s just an example off the top of my head. It’s not that I’ve ever fantasize about it or anything.)

As you may or may not know, I grew up in Denver, Colorado. (I don’t know why you would know that. Maybe you’re CIA.) Anyway, during the days of my innocent youth, we’d often have summer afternoons that would be visited by fleeting thunderstorms. They would appear out of the blue (literally), rain would rage torrentially, thunder would crack and roll across the slate gray sky and then, maybe an hour later, the storms would melt away and reveal the Rocky Mountains glowing in the western horizon. The storms would come around three in the afternoon, almost like clockwork. Sun to storm.

I remember sitting on the big stone porch of my house, reading comics and waiting for the rain to begin. One of my favorite things in life is seeing the first couple raindrops splatter against the concrete, especially when it had been sunny all day and the concrete had been hot. The smell of water evaporating on hot concrete is fantastic. Maybe that’s just me. Those were the days, way before I crossed those Rocky Mountains and headed west, just like Horace Greeley told all young men to do.

It could be that I’m imposing my own desires on my memories, as people often do. Perhaps I miss being 10 years old, back when I didn’t have to worry about the possibility of brain aneurysms, CRV tax, chicks or any of that bullshit. It was a carefree youth filled with Conan the Barbarian, Legos and various snakes. I subscribed to Reptiles Magazine when I was a kid – not because I cared about breeding gila monsters or collecting toads, but because I really liked looking at reptiles. I don’t think I read a single article. I just cut out pictures and put them on my wall.

I still have a lot of family back in Colorado. I go out there every now and again, and sometimes I catch one of those pseudo stormy days. It’s always interesting to visit your old haunts, especially if you haven’t been there in 15 years.

For instance, I went back to Denver last year. Instead of going to The Tattered Cover bookstore to look at Reptiles Magazine and sneak glances at the Playboys, I went into the Wynkoop Brewery, got a couple beers, and then went and looked at Reptiles Magazine and snuck glances at all the naked chicks in Playboy. I suppose some people never really change.

WILL LONG wants to go back to Denver. If you can hook that up – or if you are some kind of storm-summoning shaman, or if you are Parker Posey – holler at him at wclong@ucdavis.edu.


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