Sunday, June 29, 2008

Southerly Storm Blogging!

I have a soft spot for southerly storms. I grew up in Eastbourne, deep inside Wellington harbour, where for me and my teenage friends southerly storms were the main source of surf. Storms meant hail and blistering white-squalls but they also meant waves. And, as surf crazed kids, that was what mattered.

We would watch weather maps and hope. We would gaze south out of classroom windows and wait, our eyes scanning for the first clouds of the cold front. Anticipation would build all day with the rising gale.

We would talk loud on the bus home, everyone wondering why such miserable weather made us so happy. We would change into torn hand-me-down wetsuits in the shelter of battered Pohutukawa. And we wold run, jubilant, through the stinging sand into the sea.

I don't surf in storms so often now, but residual excitement remains. For this I'm lucky. What other emotion could better accompany days when the waves close Cook Strait, and snow starts to fall on the hills east and north of town?

And so, this evening, as dusk thickened the sky, tired and frustrated from a day of trying to write, I donned the raincoat I brought when I went to Greenland, and ventured out amongst it.

First I climbed to the top of the hill at the end of our road. On fine days it affords views across the south coast. But this evening I could hardly keep my feet let alone take in the view. I actually crawled to the summit such was my fear of being blown over. I then clasped onto the small trig that stands there and looked out to sea, my eyes stung by rain. Out in the Strait the wind tore white strips from the water. Waves met their end on the rocks, their explosions of spray mixing with the rain.

I didn't last long before retreating in an awkward gale-assisted stumble. From there I walked my regular road loop. Sheltered by houses for the most part I could hear the storm everywhere. Tormenting powerlines and coaxing trees into roaring song. As the daylight faded streetlights began to map out the suburbs.

By the time I got home the sky was dark, dark grey except for two pale strips in the western sky where the cloud was less thick and maybe the storm less intense.

I stopped for a moment breathing in the smell of smoke from someone's wood fire and then hurried in out of the rain.

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