I awoke to rain, a couple of nights ago. Real rain. Hard rain.
It rains a lot here, but rarely does it pour. It mists, mostly. You will be damp if you are out there long enough, but it's mostly by osmosis, not patter. It seeps into you. The rain does, and also the cold.
But it was pouring the other night, and the wind blew almost violently through my open windows.
There was lightning, off somewhere. This is probably the third time in my eight years in State of Happiness that I have seen lightning on this side of the mountains. We live in a sheltered valley, and the weather fronts generally do not collide here in such a way as to cause lightning. I've seen lightning at the coast, and lightning over the mountains, but rarely lightning here.
And then there was lightning close by - blocks away, maybe - and roaring thunder.
In the moments after the nearby lightning strike, a couple ran out into the street, dancing and shouting in the rain.*
It was 4:28 am.
I got up, finally, and closed the windows most of the way. It was too late for the rug by the window and the duvet that I had folded next to the bed. They were already wet. I spread the duvet out on the floor and went to close the bathroom window, too.
All night and the next morning, I kept hearing sounds as if there was someone walking in the house. My roommate is out of state, so I couldn't think of who was making the creaking noises, save the wind.
In the morning, I found the little diamond window in one of my closets open, blown by the wind because I hadn't secured it, and blowing the closet door in its frame. Mystery solved.
* When I was in the Mitten earlier in the month, there was a huge storm Up North where we were staying. It had been threatening all day, but when it became clear that the storm was really on its way, my mom got in the car to go find my dad, who was jogging, and the rest of us were inside the cottage when we heard a huge crack - it wasn't clear if it was wind or thunder - and the lights went out.
The wind started raging. My brother ran out onto the dock to secure the boat, and my sister and sister-in-law and I ran out to grab the plastic chairs and toys from the beach.
We all made it back just before the real rain started, with the accompanying lightning and thunder.
We were safely inside, watching the storm, when we saw the neighbors tootling along in their boat, heading back toward shore. They anchored the boat in the shallows rather than tying it to their dock.
AND THEN THEY SPENT TEN MINUTES PUTTING THE COVER ON THE BOAT WHILE THE LIGHTNING FLASHED AROUND THEM.
It was just about intolerable to watch their flirtation with death. I don't even bite my nails, but I wanted to nibble on my fingers from sheer nerves.
At one point, lightning struck out in the middle of the lake. And they were still there! In the water! Calmly covering the boat so it wouldn't get wet! The boat which was made to be in water!
"We can't even help them if they get struck by lightning," we kept saying. "We can't go out there. You can't help someone if you put yourself at risk of dying, too. Even calling paramedics wouldn't help. No one in their right mind would go out there in this weather."
We finally resorted to yelling, from the safety of our cottage (they couldn't hear us), "Leave the boat! Go inside! Save yourselves!"
Finally they finished up and WADED SLOWLY BACK THROUGH THE WATER instead of heading straight to the dock and running for their lives.
The anxiety of it all took years off my life.