Tag Archives: thunderstorm

August 10-11 – the F word

Well, it’s Monday night now, but I’m going to write about this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, and about the odd summer we’re having this year.

On Saturday morning, I went to Louisa to do my regular Saturday “shopping for the community” excursion.   Other than being another surprisingly pleasant day for early August, it was pretty unremarkable.  Then, once I got back and started unloading the car, we got hit by a crazy strong thunderstorm, I’m guessing we had well over an inch of rain in a half hour of solid downpour.   Here’s the Twin Oaks road in the midst of the storm.Image

and, just after parking the car, I stepped out into the rain and took this photo of the soggy garden. Image

With the rain came an immediate drop in temperature; not that it was ever that hot on Saturday, but the rest of the afternoon remained moist and cool.  I know that it’s still the beginning of August, and we’re only halfway through that period of time technically called summer, but I’ll be damned if I wasn’t feeling a hint of fall in the air. I mean, during the winter, it seems like as soon as you get ahead of yourself and proclaim  that spring is just around the corner, that’s when the weather gods hit you with snow and ice.  Similarly, I don’t want to get too comfortable yet, I’m sure that we’ll get at least one more heat wave this year, but at this point it almost feels like the worst of summer (such as it was) is done with, and we have the glory of autumn (my very favorite time of year) to look forward to.  (I just checked, and for the next week, they’re forecasting high temperatures in the upper 70’s and low 80’s.)

After dropping off the last of my purchases, I walked home through the woods; now that I was good and soaked, there was no harm in getting even wetter.  In this photo, I really like the strange patterns the rain was making on the surface of the pond.Image

around the back edge of the pond, next to the sauna, there are all sorts of pretty pink and purple flowers, planted by a previous pond manager many years ago.  For years, these flowers struggled to survive under thick ivy and bramble, this year we cut away some of the vegetation that was covering the flowers, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at what’s come up.Image

As I made my way from the pond back to my house, I came across this fellow, who didn’t seem to mind the rain one bit.Image

A couple of days ago I crossed this creeklet to look for boletes, and the stream bed was mostly dry, just some moist mud.  It looks quite different after an hour of torrential rain. Image

Just before I got home, I came across this branch covered in angel’s wings (a type of oyster mushrooms), which I swear was not there two days ago when I last walked past this very branch!  I wound up cooking them into some pasta as a mid-afternoon snack, and they were tasty!Image

So (familiar complaint, I know), just a few days back, I was given another long boring book to compile an index for, which once again is cutting into my precious time for walking in the woods and obervating.  On Sunday morning, after I had bashed my way through a couple of chapters of the book, I rewarded myself with a half-hour stroll in the woods, to see what the recent rains had brought out.   here are a few things I came across:

Here’s a spot where a large tree was blown over in last June’s derecho.  It was a big one, and the forestry crew harvested the trunk, then pushed it halfway back into the ground.  It’s interesting that the soil around the trunk, in the spot that was most disturbed when the tree toppled over, there is a flush of green vegetation that hasn’t taken root in other parts of the forest floor.  I guess that all that disturbance created opportunities for the seeds to ‘go to seed.’Image

further in the woods, I came across this dead cedar tree with two large puffballs growing out of the side.  While they aren’t quite ‘giant puffball’ sized, they are a lot bigger than the ones I normally see growing on dead logs.Image

I pulled one of them off to give a better idea of the size of the puffball.Image

and this is what the inside looked like.  Not going to be eating this one, I’m afraid.Image

I only had half an hour, so I made my way down to the creek to see how things looked down there.  The bugs in the woods were fierce this morning, mostly swarms of tiny gnats that hovered around my head in an annoying cloud, flying into my ears, eyes, and mouth.  They don’t seem to bite, but they really want to fly inside of me through any available orifice.  The woods were also incredibly thick with spiders and spider webs– I found that I had to keep a stick in my hands and wave it in front of me with just about every step; otherwise I’d be walking through a web every 15 seconds.  Not the most relaxing conditions for a walk in the woods.Image

After a few short minutes, I had to get back home to begin my cooking shift.  Close to home, I came across a couple growths of chanterelles, which have been absent from the woods for the past few weeks.  So all that rain on Saturday did have some effect.Image

more Chanterelles, on a cool, humid August day.Image

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June 26 – oh the wind and rain

Wednesday afternoon was forecast to be all hot and muggy; I had the boys all afternoon and a free ride to Charlottesville.  So I figured it would be a good day for the “sprayground” splash park.  These water spritzing parks are fairly new to me, we certainly never had them when I was a kid, and they are just perfect for young kids on a hot summer day.

The first hour at the crowded splash park passed enjoyably and relatively uneventfully.  Then the sky darkened, and weather conditions took a turn for the ominous.  By the time the western sky looked like this (below), about half the families had packed up and split.Image

A few more minutes passed, and the sky looked even more ominous.  By this point, anyone with any sense had already left the park.Image

No one left at the “sprayground” but the brave and the stupid.Image

The sky grew ever darker, the wind picked up, the trees thrashed about crazily…Image

…lightning flashed, thunder rumbled, and the sky ripped open with yet another furious early summer downpour.  My word can it ever rain in Virginia!Image

By now, the park was empty save for us, another single dad with his two kids, and some teenagers smoking a joint, all of us huddled under the picnic pavilion’s ever-shrinking circle of dryness.  We had a van, but no where in particular to go, and the kids (including big “poppa” kid) were actually quite thrilled to tear around in the rain.  There’s something delightfully surreal about running around at a spray park while it’s pouring down rain.  I mean, once you’re totally soaked, you can’t get any more soaked, so you might as well run around crazy in the thunderstorm and hope you don’t get hit by lightning, right?Image

Making the most of a summer storm…..Image

March 16– thunderstorm, rainbow, and fog…

Today we had our first spring thunderstorm of the year– lightning, thunder, heavy rain, the whole bit.  As you can see in the photo below, a thunderstorm is a difficult thing to photograph in a way that gives any sense of what it feels like to actually be in it; the smells, the contrast between the warm air and cold rain, the look of a sky that is dark gray on one side, while still sunny on the other.Image

The storm swiftly passed overhead, west to east, clouds sliding away and revealing a low, late-afternoon sun, perfect rainbow conditions.  I ran outside with my camera and didn’t have to look long to see a full 180-degree double rainbow.  Getting a decent photo was a different thing, and by the time I made it to a clearing where you could actually see the sky, half of it had disappeared.  Still, it was quite a sight.  My youngest kid, who turns four on the 17th, commented that although he’s seen rainbows in books and movies and whatnot, it’s the first time he has really been aware of seeing a real one in person.  Image

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The day ended with the sun lighting up water dripping from the leaves and trees,  and eerie tendrils of wispy fog gathering in the woods, collecting in low spots and drainages, the kind of fog that you might see in a horror movie but rarely in real life.  I guess that between the thunder and lightning, the rainbow, and the fog, the entire afternoon had a kind of otherworldly feeling.Image