I’m sitting on a generic IKEA chair, nine storeys up, on my Toronto balcony, overlooking the CN Tower. An indistinctive condo. An urban box like all the rest. A typical city landscape spread before me, steaming in the heat. It’s the sky that commands attention. To the east, a sweet periwinkle blue, while to the west, grey swallows the summer heavens. The two collide directly above my head. I sideline my work to watch.
Drops of water shade a corner of the concrete near my feet. I hope for a cool wet relief on my sticky flesh. I nudge my elbow over the arm rest, into the mist. My skin sizzles like a hot sidewalk. Summer is suddenly saturated with rain. Strips of water fall, so steady in their stream, you could climb the drops like a fireman’s pole and touch the electric clouds. The air smells like the colour green. Verdant and fresh and alive. I’m reluctant to close my eyes in case I miss a zig or a zag, but the sound of the drops is most magnificent when all other senses are dimmed.
The sky flashes. A bright light. The universe rumbles. A growl. The earth proclaims, notice me, I’m here.
I listen to the distant trembling, waiting expectantly for it to crash on my doorstep, hoping it will come direct and not get lost down a side street. I want my insides to echo with the sound of the atmospheric rocks smashing, a sensation only possible when immediately overhead. I want to count the tendrils in a spidery vein of lightning as it tries to kiss the earth. Come closer.
If you hold your open palms to the sky, the electricity will sit there, building in intensity, daring you to do something, anything, with this gift of energy. A wind whistles through the erect hairs on my arms. I inhale the sharp as metal, soft as cotton air. I am euphoric.
Thunderstorms are my favourite forecast.
I invite them to wake me in the middle of the night, rap on my window, chase away my dreams. I hope for them in foreign lands. A jagged spear of silver tossed across Venice. A sheet of white dropped behind Old Havana. A guttural pounding above Paris.
The storms make more impressions than a flawless sky. I prefer imperfect. I want a climax, a reckoning, a disruption of nature. An occurrence so fleeting, I immediately yearn for another, hope for multiples.
They are a reminder of the power living in this earth we call home. For a few moments, they unhinge a cage and the wild roams free. And anything is possible.
Photo: John Finney Photography