6:07am. Ok. So the wall just moved. I am officially awake. Listening to the battering wind outside and blinking. The house is juddering gently, my old wooden bed against the attic wall making the occasional shift. Like jelly on a table at a party as twenty lunatic children roar past high on sugar, setting it a-wibbling. But a bit scarier, when it really quakes. A bit ‘The Exorcist Lite’, like the devil is dry-humping our houses instead of our daughters.
Nature’s got some moves, hasn’t it? We forget that a bit sometimes, living in Blighty. We get a sort of milder-mannered version of everything. Even our rain has a sort of apologetic English quality when it’s pouring. “I’m so terribly sorry about this, chaps. *SOAK* I feel really quite awful about it. *DRENCH* I’m just going to get this last bit out and then we can can all have a cup of tea and crack on. *HAMMER*” Exotic monsoons aren’t like that. There’s no apologies in India or Venezuela; just relentless torrential soaking, rain falling solidly on everything, like Nature has a hundred thousand feet and is kicking off all its shoes at once. Thwack. Water can be so gentle and so soft, and so pummellingly hard. Violent. Unapologetic.
Nature likes the night-time too. It does a lot of its big work at night doesn’t it. Snow, rain, wind. They all seem to prefer shaking their tail feathers in the dark while we sleep before slowing down for the day.
I slept through the hurricane of, when was it, 1987? Did that one have a name? I don’t remember. Woke up to the street looking like God had been playing dominoes. Fence panels all felled through our back gardens by a big finger flick. I don’t believe in God, but when you wake up from a storm and see the mess that’s been left your imagination leaps a bit to God, registering the unexpected scale of it all compared to what you’re accustomed to. We attribute the force somewhere, even if only for the tiniest flickering moment before remembering to credit Nature. Mum couldn’t believe I’d slept through it. For years afterwards she’d joke that I could sleep through anything. We walked to the park the next day and sat on the trees, now lying down flat with broken limbs like Somme soldiers. Dead trees. They were just logs now, not living beasts. I sleep through less now, am woken by more. Is that getting older; not wanting to miss anything? Does the body shrug off its need for sleep because we are not growing anymore? Because we’re adult-sized and our brains instead turn to face the downward slope?
So this is Storm Katie. A lot of hurricanes seem to be named after women. I wonder why. In so many things of this manmade life we are denied force, but in weather we are seen as mighty, and treacherous. I think of one of my oldest friends. Katie. She’s just lost her mum. She must feel like railing like this wind outside. I haven’t seen her yet. Haven’t been able to hold her, like she held me when I lost Dad and everything inside was turned over by a tornado. I hope a piece of my love gets taken to her whipquick on the wind; somehow quicker a messenger than the technology I’ve been typing my condolences out on; more tangible the love than light and pixels.
I’m thinking of that little girl now too. The poor little thing that got whipped away by the wind, not far from here. Playing alone on a bouncy castle. One big tug enough for her to take her away forever. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a story quite like that, not round here. There must be strange and terribly sad cases like that going on all around the world all the time, little deaths in the great swipes of Nature. But when it’s local it feels bigger. Closer. Crueller. Scale; our feelings respond to scale, and proximity.
It seems to be dying down a bit outside now. Can’t be too bad because a plane just snuck by overhead. They’re not allowed to fly if it’s too bad, are they. Unless it’s been blown from its runway moorings at the airport and is soaring sans engine like an origami bird.
I might try and get another hour’s sleep if I can.