The eldest granddaughter graduated from college Saturday, first in her familial generation to be so accomplished. Even the gods were joyful, judging from the graduation eve celebration and fireworks. The rain started Friday evening as the celestial band tuned up, beginning with a soft breeze and a few drops, growing rapidly progressively windier and wetter with each hour. Then suddenly, amid the cloud-to-cloud arcing, the lights went out, as though one of the young gods, overcome with his own revelry, had stumbled into the switch.
Electricity was not in short supply; it simply was not in a form we mere mortals could pump through a wire. I tried. I hung wires in trees, female ends up, hoping the airborne electrons would fall into the holes and drain down into the refrigerator and television. Alas, ’twas not to be.
All night, the Olympians threw their swords and spears and slammed hammers to shatter the air, which karromed back together in sharp thunderous crashes that echoed across the skyscape. It was a wonderful show displayed for those of us huddled before the stage, the whole house filled with light, though none of the bulbs had any energy at all.
The storm stopped in time for the 2 p.m. ceremony, and Duke Energy had terrestrial electricity dutifully traveling along the appointed wires by about 9 p.m.
I love thunderstorms. The power is awe-inspiring. I once lived where I was regularly treated to storms coming up from the east end of the lake, like a huge waterlogged blanket being dragged across the surface, emblazoned with randomly flashing streaks of lightning. The wall of wet pushed before it a breeze that grews into a full gale as it piled up the way an ocean wave piles upon a beach.
We do not get to see that display often enough, I think — to sit by a water or pasture and watch a storm approach. Instead, we sit in our home and look out the window at rivers sluicing down our streets. Now and then, real rivers jump their banks, but I’m lucky to live out of range of most of them.
We have been trying to get a bluebird nest going. Every spring, at least one pair of bluebirds investigate the house we have mounted for them. Last year, they even made a nest and laid three eggs, then abandoned the whole shebang. A Bewicks Wren couple moved in for awhile, but did not stay (though they did set up housekeeping in a gourd hung from a nearby tree.. A grackle drops by from time to time to check out the house, but cannot get his shoulders through the door.
Meanwhile, outside the bedroom window, a family of Northern Cardinals has taken residence in a shrub. Mom and dad take turns feeding the, so far, three chicks (one egg remains to hatch). Mrs. C sits on the nest all night. I know there are robin nests I have not yet found. And a dozen or so Blue Jays crowd the feeders and steal peanuts the lady of my house throws out for the squirrels.
It’s an amazing thing to watch spring generate life from the seeming lifelessness of winter. I especially enjoy watching the eggs break into little wide-mouthed skin-and-fuzz balls greedily grabbing grub the parents take turns delivering. Eventually, they will sprout wings, and fly off to find their own way.
It is a fitting parallel to the many high school and college graduates spreading their own wings as they embark on the search for their own enterprise.