Beauty from Storm

Yesterday morning arrived in gusty, wet glory.

When I lived in Seattle, waking up to gray morning after gray morning, nothing but sunshine seemed beautiful. But here, where sunshine is the norm, a really stormy day almost takes my breath away with its power and awe-full majesty. Sheets of rain cascade and collide. Leaves–mauve and orange and gold–scatter like trails of magic, effortlessly puffed down the street. Delicate tree branches bend and sway, threatening to snap at every moment in their reckless dance. It is inspiring as well as terrifying to watch.

But what struck me most was what was left in the wake of the wind and rain. When the loud forces of destruction quieted, I went tromping around with my camera and galoshes, noticing the tiny, quirky miracles left behind.

Things like mossy green baby-tears springing up between paving stones, the soft blooming to surround and overcome the hard.

Or the fact that almost all the maple leaves were stuck face-down to the sidewalk, leaving their stems sticking straight up into the air like the tails of curious puppies. 

What I thought was most interesting of all, though, was the sight of our lawn. I looked out the window and noticed that the helter-skelter whipping and tearing of the storm-force had mingled dead autumn leaves with flowers from our bougainvillea vine.

Life mingled with death, the shedding of a tree’s old coat beside pink crepe butterfly-delicate petals. The dying of the old year beside the flowering of the new. Autumn and spring scattered side-by-side. It made me think of Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Flowers. 

It also made me think that even November storms that make the house creak, that strip the trees of all their finery, that force in bare branches and winter before I’m quite ready for them, can leave beauty behind them as well. Gales can even bring the beauty, sometimes: the same violent  winds that destroy can scatter the lawn with flowers.

Maybe–perhaps even this–the beauty wouldn’t come without the storm.

First Rain

On Wednesday morning, September 5th, it rained.

All right, laugh, my friends in the Pacific Northwest. Here in California, it doesn’t just rain all the time. It isn’t something to be taken for granted. And not just if you work for the Water Department.

This morning’s rain only lasted a few minutes, just barely wet the ground, but it was special. Have you ever really watched it rain before? It’s magical.

It’s the first silver puddles of the season.

It’s dusty dribbles on Baby’s windshield that make me glad I didn’t wash her yesterday.

It’s dark thunderheads gilded with bright edges by a sun that’s there, but that you can’t see.

It’s sharp contrasts in the sky and wet asphalt on the ground.

It’s a fine veil sewn all over with silver stitches.

It’s an eager rustle, like the crinkle of a safe blanket coming up to your chin, like the whisper of a fairy godmother’s skirts.

It’s a soft, growing smell, a smell of motion and of rising, a halfway dusty smell, like the pages of an old book.

And it’s a cool breeze blowing through your house, straight through open windows, sweeping away the stagnant heat of a long, hot summer. It’s ushering in something new, an anticipation of what may be.


Fall is just around the corner! What do you look forward to about this new season?


Raindrops on Roses

Last week, it rained almost all week. 
When I was living in Seattle, the rain frustrated me. It was constant. All I could think about were wet socks, frizzy hair, cold fingers, dirty puddles, indoor mold. 
Now that I’m back in California, where showers are balanced with sunshine, it’s easier for me to be thankful for the rain. Now I go out in my rain boots with my camera, enjoying the beauty that the rain brings, especially to the rose garden. I’ve always loved taking close-ups of dew-studded roses. I hope you enjoy the results!

They’re little miracles, reminders of the beauty brought even by hardship, signs of joy even in the rain. They remind me of the song from The Sound of Music:

“Raindrops on roses, and whiskers on kittens…

 “bright copper kettles, and warm woolen mittens…

“brown paper packages, tied up with string…

“these are a few of my favorite things!”

Happy Monday! What’s beautiful in your world today?