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.