Monday, May 11, 2009

Listen to the thunder shout I am I am

What shall we say, shall we call it by a name
As well to count the angels dancing on a pin
Water bright as the sky from which it came
And the name is on the earth that takes it in
We will not speak but stand inside the rain
And listen to the thunder shout
I am, I am, I am, I am

Weather Report Suite, May 5, 2009, Allstate Arena, last song, first set. Resonating, vibrating, the music sings in me still. I was transported through the time-space continuim, 1983, Red Rocks, the Grateful Dead, the storm gathering over the eastern Colorado plains.... Phil Lesh's booming bass crashing off the rocks encompassing the amphitheater, the thunder gathering, the lightening, the looming rain-- and listen to the thunder shout-- I am, I am, I am, I am..... Fist clenched, jumping up and down, arms raised exultantly into the air, the whole crowd throbbing, jumping, shouting in unison.... I am, I am.... May 2009. Sitting in the banker's corner office, Carbondale, completing the mortgage application. Fish bowl view of the storm... "we will not speak but stand inside the rain....." thunder crahses, the wind howls, the power goes off. Like the scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy's house is spinning and trees are flying by.... I saw a guy on a bicycle trying to ride into the wind, telephone poles snapping off and blowing by like tooth picks. We watch the storm, then the banker completes the computations on his hand held calculator. Everyone else in the bank is hunkered down, ready to retreat to the bank vault. The rain and wind stop and the sun comes out. I shake hands, excited about the purchase of our new home, pleased to be so well treated and highly regarded as a new Carbondale resident. Out side the extent of the damage from the 100 mph straight line winds is barely comprehensible. Branches broken and trees strewn everywhere. Power lines dangling across every street. Everyone out looking around, amazed. Grateful. Just the power out, just some wind damage, no death, no injury. No movement of traffic. As I attempted to drive my rental car back to the Ford dealer, I became increasingly aware of just what a mess the storm had made of my soon to be new home town. It took an hour to drive 1.5 miles. The poor little Focus sustained cracked windshield and it looked like someone pounded it with a hammer. The night before at the Holiday Inn over 20 cars in the parking lot had their windshields broken from the hail and wind. Two storms in 12 hours, the first golf ball size hail and winds. The second, like a tornado with out the rotation. I was really worried about being able to leave Carbondale to get back to Oak Park. Due to track work, amazingly poorly timed by the rail road to coincide with graduation weekend at Southern the biggest egress of people all year, the train stopped in Effingham and finished the last 100 miles via motorcoach, a.k.a. bus. It was a deluxe bus with DVD players, but a bus none the less. The buses had just arrived when the Ford rental guy dropped me at the station. They were caught in the storm, navigating their way around the downed limbs and power lines. I noticed the drivers head to Boobies, so I got my first meal in 8 hours sitting next to them in the ambient light, now well recognized by Joy, the shift manager who makes a mean sandwich. I knew I wouldn't be left behind, sitting at the bar eating next to the drivers. We boarded the bus and headed straight up 51, avoiding the disaster on highway 13. The drive through southern Illinois' back roads all the way north to I64 was beautiful, bucolic, pastoral-- not like the terrain around Chicago. In fact, north of I-70/Effingham is when the topography changes, from flat to hills. It is going to be quite a nice change, being in a more natural world. No longer in the flight path of Ohare. We won't hear the traffic on the Eisenhower or the El thundering past. Or helicopters hovering over the highway reporting on the 20 mile long traffic jams. In stead, we will hear the thunder shouting-- I am, I am.... I am.....

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