chrysalism -
n. the amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm, listening to waves of rain pattering against the roof like an argument upstairs, whose muffled words are unintelligible but whose crackling release of built-up tension you understand perfectly. - The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

One of the cats hides under the bed; the other tucks into a geometrically-implausible compactness under my arm. It's coming down too heavily to hear each other speak over it, so he and I sit next to each other playing Nintendo games, reading science fiction horror novels, crocheting, coexisting.

A thunderstorm grants certainty of the inviolate uninterrupted space of the home. Nobody's going to be out and about in weather like this - no unexpected visits from relatives who show up at the door without calling first. No errands to run. No reason to swap pyjamas for trousers. For some hours or a day, nobody needs anything from us. Nobody is allowed to need anything from us.

He's from out west, a rain shadow city that doesn't get storms like this. Doesn't get storms, period. The thunderclaps still raise his eyebrows to his hairline. The tornado siren on the water tower peals out an apocalyptic wail, and we hunker comfortably without overmuch concern for it, my local upbringing sufficient to tell the false alarms from the real deal. The lake being where it is, and the highway, and the creek, all make it pretty hard for anything to touch down near enough to be threatening. He probably finds me too unruffled, and he might be right about that someday, but none of the houses on this street have basements, and all of them are older than my grandparents. In the meantime, he consults my relaxation or seriousness, for how to regard the severity of the storm.

The power goes out and takes the Internet with it, and that's our cue to go to bed, conserving battery on electronics and flashlights. I've slept through hundreds louder and meaner than this one - some of the best sleep of my life, secure in the liberation from all obligations, brought by a proper squall. Come morning, we'll need to reset correct times on all the clocks in the house, reboot our computers, and haul fallen branches out of the yard and onto the burn pile. Windows will open to let in the ozone-clean, green-grey vegetal geosmin reek of petrichor and the transpiration of flooded sycamore trees. The creek will be out, water rolling high over cypress knee and cattail, up to the bases of unoccupied fishing shacks and deer stands.

It feels like the opposite side of a baptism, a consecration from the water's perspective. Everything flows in and ebbs away, washing up silt to stick to the siding of the house, and turning over the lake so our drinking water tastes vaguely of fish for days. It's not that we're cleaner; it's that we're where everything went that got cleaned out of other things, like how towels get wetter the more they dry. The storm brings home to roost the grit and slime mold of rural life, for the whole dusty lot of us to grow in it, like Arcyria denudata fruiting off a rotten stump. Life's little messes fall by the wayside, contrasted against a great big mess of soggy, flourishing life that the storm sets in motion, while we cocoon and hibernate to the music of the sky falling.

Iron Noder 2019, 20/30

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