Yesterday morning, I opened the door to let the dog in after a long night of hard rains. The air was hot, muggy, already at 7. The contrast felt apocalyptic, but everything does these days: it’s just my usual adjective.
How are you?
Apocalyptic, thanks, and you?
The same. Have an apocalyptic day!
Of course, the root of apocalypse is “revelation” and what I wondered as I felt the warm air rush into the cool house was, What does it mean? There has been strange and extreme weather throughout history; it’s only now that we are in the anthropocene that I attribute such strangeness to us, in the way that previous generations presumably attributed it to God.
We spent the day inside, canceled lessons and errands, while in DC and London, thousands marched to bring awareness of climate change. The rain came in what is commonly called ‘fits and starts,’ but the fits really felt like it: lashing tantrums of rains, seizures of rain, rain flailing in all directions, raging uncontrollably. My belief about nature is that it has no emotion and yet I always want to describe how it feels. Nature often provides metaphors for human emotions–a heart opening like a flower–so I guess it makes sense that our emotions might provide metaphors for nature.
Creeks overran their banks; water cascaded down our lawn in sheets. I sat in the window seat, watching it and reciting poems in preparation for my class tomorrow. It’s an introduction to reading fiction as a writer, but we conclude with a déclamacion, where each student recites a poem and I recite one for every student who does so. (Yes, I have some very short ones ready in case I run dry.) Yeats’ “Second Coming” is among the selections I declaimed in the window seat and “twenty centuries of stony sleep were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle” seems as good a description as any for the ways that we have used the earth for our own comfort, prosperity and pleasure. “Surely some revelation is at hand…”
Late in the evening, the rain abated for a brief time, and I walked the dog through unpopulated streets to the sound of rushing water we couldn’t see.