I'd like to tell you about the thunderstorms that came through yesterday, but I'm not sure I can describe them. The first one came through when my mother and I were working in my yard. I have a big yard, which is both a blessing and a burden, and my mom helps me tackle projects that overwhelm me. We were moving rocks and cutting back brush and Lila was rolling on her back like a happy otter as the sky rumbled and gurgled. After half an hour or so the rumbles were louder, urgent, and we started seeing bolts of lightning. I counted beats. It's a mile away, moving faster. The sky turned that black-blue-grey color, darker than a battleship, and you could see pulses of lightning everywhere. It's half a mile away. We picked up our things and raced into the house and the sky opened up, with the kind of hard sudden rain that leaves a sheet of water 1/2" on the pavement because there's not time for it to drain away.
It lasted maybe 10 minutes and then the sun came out and the rain started to evaporate. I went online and checked the radar, because I was race committee for an evening race a few hours later. There was a line of thunderstorms over New Hampshire, moving east, probably hitting right when it would be time to start the race. You can't tell, though, where and when a storm might hit, so I headed down to the club anyway. When I got there the sky over Basket Island was dark and rumbly, but it was relatively clear. You could see a big pile of dark clouds to the west, though.
The racers were assembled on the porch, speculating. Are you going to cancel it? I said, 60% chance we're cancelling. But after it comes through it might be clear and so I may just postpone. I had a few people with me who were beginners and were there to learn how to run races, so we went down to the dock and I showed them how to hook up the shapes and how to operate the gun. We reviewed the starting sequence. I told them what it meant to postpone, and showed them the Answering Pennant. I told them what it meant to abandon a race and showed them the N flag and the A flag. The sky got even darker, like night, and we brought the flags and the gun and a box of shells up to the porch.
Someone on my crew had brought shrimp. I'd brought carrots and hummous, and rum. We drank rum and tonics and watched the sky change. It turned an eerie green-grey over Handy Boat and then the rain took over. Thunder and lightning everywhere, and a downpour of rain slapping loud and hard on the roof and the ground. It lasted ten or twenty minutes, and then calmed into a lighter rain. At six o'clock, I headed down to the big flagpole and while one of my crew loaded and fired the shotgun three times, I raised N over A up the pole.
We stayed on the porch for an hour or so, drinking cocktails and telling stories. A full rainbow appeared, stretching from Clapboard over to Sturdivant. The clouds and rain kept moving east, and from the west the light of the setting sun lit up the white hulls of the boats in the anchorage so they glowed against the grey sky and water. That's my favorite time of night, when the setting sun hits the boats and they pop with a kind of bright vividness that seems almost unreal.