Weather Watching


Weather Watching

Gorgeous dawn this morning, one of a week full. Black clouds nested low but high enough for pink slanting across the underbelly to produce more than one wow.  And ~ briefly ~ the distinct form of an eagle with pink tailfeathers. Thanks, mother nature.

We’re told an Atmospheric River is about to empty over our coast here starting about now, north getting the greatest impact. Sets me to thinking about weather. Here’s a rainy day story for you.

Just let me say that I’ve seen some weather in my life. The most intense and varied and long running was, so far, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. It beat out Yosemite’s High Sierras at 5,000 feet, Vermont’s Green Mountains, Mississippi’s hurricanes, and California’s floods.

I moved from downtown Brooklyn to a teeny town called Bluemont, on a rise of about 200 feet. Not much elevation above the DC swamps, but there’s some configuring the Blue Ridge has done to produce unbelievably intense storms of enormous drama. The hills are abrupt and ferocious rivers (Potomac, Shennandoah) and multitudinous tributaries run at their bases providing constant moisture and interesting wind.

I should add that this town of Bluemont was at the base of a 1750 foot rise named Mt. Weather. A slippery, narrow black ribbonned road led up to the pinpoint of the first  U.S. weather balloon launch. If Ben Franklin had asked George Washington where to find electrified air, George (who as a youthful surveyer lived, I swear, in THAT shed right there, on every single farmer’s south forty) would have sent him south of Phili. In (numerous) winter ice storms the air would blacken right down to your feet, not just bouncing above your head somewhere. The place drew thunder and lightning to the highly forested hilltop. Unbelievable sound and light show. Gene Kruppa, Gabriel, and Michael Jackson all en flagranted on the same stage.

Trees would drop and shatter the air. Phone, electric, and wells would stop and you’d for sure have remembered to top off the cords of firewood with sturdy plastic. That was Bluemont. Two years later I rented a c.1830 log cabin on a 60 acre farm in the middle of nowhere about a mile from Harper’s Ferry. Now THAT place had what you call weather. If you survived til dawn you got an eyeful.

Violent Dawn Across the Pond. Oil on Canvas.
Log Cabin Farm, Virginia

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