Written in the Sky

For eons people believed that the stars & planets in the night sky foretold the future and today many people rely on horoscopes of various kinds to make plans and avoid unlucky days. I’m not interested in debunking or supporting the value of advice derived from the transit of planets. I’m focused on the other storytellers in the sky—the clouds and winds.

Some of these stories are based on practical data—the accumulated wisdom of sailors & farmers plus the relatively recent developments in scientific weather tracking & storm prediction. The gray cloud, fat with moisture as it rolls in on the wind Or a cloudless sky, when the air is still, dry & hot, are both, to my mind, wonderful backdrops for stories filled with apprehension & anxiety.

In the first, something is going to happen. The storm is imminent—just a crack of thunder and a blast of lightning away from the opening scene of a classic tale of horror. While the intense quiet of the still air, the heat and the sweep of blue sky, implies an emptiness that could be filled with foreboding. I can hear a character deciding, out of boredom or a perverse sense of entitlement, to make some kind of cruel and monumental change. The hot, dry, stillness and the absence of shadows, welcomes a quick and maybe violent explosion. Is it weird to think of murder on a summer day? I don’t think so.

Twice in my life I’ve spent time alone in a country house and both times there was a hurricane. I was alone. I was scared, but the phones continued to work and the house was in a vacation community in Connecticut where I knew I could get help if I needed it. I don’t remember much about what I did the morning following the first storm. It was a very long time ago.

But my memories of the second storm are vivid. It was a few years later and I was in a rented beach house in Hampton Bays (yes THE Hamptons, but not one of the fancy towns). Of all the stupid things to read by flashlight, I’d picked a murder/thriller with overtones of horror and I scared the shit out of myself. Still, I have fond memories of the next morning when I walked to the bay beach. Driftwood, beach glass, and shells were strewn along the usually empty sand. The sky was serene and peaceful—the quiet after the storm. I had the beach to myself and I imagined what might have floated to the shore during the night.

Night sky in NYC at sunset before a stormy day.

Night sky in NYC at sunset before a stormy day.


  1. I’ve never really been scared of storms, perhaps because I’ve never experienced a truly bad one, but fire weather scares me silly. It’s hot, dry with a sort of crackle in the air and a north wind blowing. Lightning strikes and fire-bugs both start fires and when the fire weather is particularly bad, devastation happens. So thankful we’re having a damp, dreary, wet winter. 🙂

    • Candy Korman

      Give me a hurricane over a wild fire any day! The fires in California and in Australia—just the idea of them—scare me so much! Every place has its frightening aspect. And, I guess, if I lived in L.A. I might ponder the anxiety in the anticipation of after shocks, or the fear of “the big one.” If I lived in Kansas, I might focus on tornadoes. In New Orleans, floods, etc. etc. etc.

      Still there is something special in the atmosphere created by—the atmosphere!

  2. I’ve never been in a truly horrible storm, but the summer storms I encountered with living in NC put the Idaho thunderstorms I’d encountered to shame. Also, who knew rain could fall at so many angels and in so many different shaped droplets? I guess rain out West is a bit more mundane overall.

    • Candy Korman

      Maybe because my time out west has been limited, but the sky in New Mexico when I went for my cousin’s wedding years ago was fascinating. Simply the open expanse of sky—and land, too—made my head spin. Now that I think about it, I can imagine another sort of story in the sky over the plains. Rain, wherever and wherever, for more than a few days brings a heaviness to any story. I’m in the Netherlands right now and, although yesterday was sunny & lovely, the sky this morning is talking about drizzle and that will set the tone for any story I weave right now.

      Love the idea of so many shaped droplets! Yesterday, I learned that chocolate sprinkles are called “chocolate hail” in Dutch.