A Wider View

Yesterday’s sky was promising.  Dark banks of clouds marched across the afternoon.  Thunderheads grew up fast and tall.  They grumbled and groused.  More than once, the bottom of the sky dropped out; subsidence.  The wake of cold wind that followed was sudden and welcome, even though it pulled the shades off my windows and cleared my windowsills of their trinkets.  For once, it did not seem blasphemous to hope for rain.

Nevertheless, the sky held.  And held.  And held some more.  The patch of sky above my house, at least.  Towards dusk, I sat outside during what might have qualified as a weak downburst.  A wall of wind pushed curtains of dust and leaves and branches sideways through the air.  It left debris sprawled like hieroglyphics across my porch, rearranging its message every so often, erasing or adding words.  I stood and went to the railing.  I let the wind press up against me and watched it rain everywhere but here until it was too dark to see.

Growing up in Connecticut, unless I had crested a particularly high peak, weather transpired between whatever group of trees happened to be near, in that triangle or trapezoid of sky.  As a general rule, the Southwest offers more expansive views.  I can watch it rain over the San Francisco Peaks, two hours from here by highway, when this corner of Arizona is cloudless and dry as a bone.  On any given day, I can usually see the Black Hills (29 miles), Flagstaff (96 miles), the Superstition Mountains (158 miles), and then farther on to places whose names I do not know.

There is something comforting about looking out over so much distance.  Maybe it is an evolutionary holdover from the time when open landscapes, where animal predators and other threats could be identified from a distance, offered our ancestors a better shot at survival.  Or maybe I just like the visual reminder that I am something small inside of something vast, which, on good days, is humbling and feels a lot like being held.

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