There is a tin roof on the storage shed my neighbor owns, and it sits just a few feet away from and below our deck – the one we sit on almost every night. If it’s not too hot.
It’s rusty, the roof. Like, it’s rustier than it isn’t. Maybe it’s not even tin. Maybe it’s steel? I’m not a metal expert.
But, thanks to that metal roof, I am an expert on declaring when it’s raining here. Rain is one of the most exciting things that can happen in the desert, and tonight was no different. A long-needed storm rolled in just before bedtime, as they always tend to do, and for a long time all it offered was distant, sky-illuminating lightning and a solid, dust-carrying wind.
And then my oldest looked at me. She heard something, as she sat across from me at the kitchen table – she reading The Fault in Our Stars, me reading an excruciatingly painful but amazing story in Outside magazine. We were at the table so we could see the lightning in the distance.
We both jumped up and ran to the deck. Rain. We knew it was rain.
It wasn’t. It was our washing machine filling downstairs, tricking us into thinking that rain was falling from the sky for maybe the third or so time this entire summer – when we’re supposed to get some pretty amazing and sometimes dangerous rain storms.
This season, by all accounts, has been an absolute dud.
We returned to our reading, disappointed with an eye on the sky as the lightning floated closer and became a bit more dramatic, splitting into countless veins as it careened from the sky to the ground, at one point creating a turquoise glow that grew like a bubble from the ground to the sky after it struck.
It was wicked.
And then the roof chimed in. The tap, tap, tap. The clicking of the water landing on that shed, letting us know that this storm would be more than just a light show. It was (it’s still going as I write this so it’s weird to talk of it in the past tense) one of the best visual displays of nature I’ve seen. Ever.
The lightning literally danced across the sky, hanging vertically and horizontally. Lighting up whole clouds and splashing through even our closed eyelids. It was one of the more action-packed storms I’ve ever seen.
And I’ve been around.
I can’t remember ever not being fascinated by the weather, growing up in Michigan, watching the skies change by the hour. Preparing for the lake effect snow, and steadying myself against a humidity so thick you felt like you had to swim through it just to get to the mailbox or the bus stop.
We rarely even have weather at all in Phoenix. It’s either a heat advisory or perfect. At least it seems that simple. If it rains, it’s the biggest story of the day, even when people get murdered or coal miners and orphans get rescued. Rain still leads.
So the rain, and the lightning that is lasting way longer than the rain, is to blame for my little moment of nostalgia. The sight I have in my mind of my oldest, as a little tiny human, fascinated by a storm.
She was so pulled to watch it, she had to be maybe 3, she arranged chairs into a straight line facing out the sliding glass door. And in each chair, she put a stuffed animal, saving one chair for her. And then she sat down, so they could all watch the storm together. Because, it was super exciting and different and a little scary. Her hair was a mess, and I think she was in a nightgown. I mean, she was born during a thunderstorm.
Tonight, everyone’s asleep but me. One of the dogs is either under the bed or in the bathtub. The other is next to me. And all I hear is that tin roof. Pop-pop-popping, as each wave of this storm rolls through.
Hoping this storm has a sister, who’s running a day behind, and gives us another go the next day.