Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wacky winter weather

I feel like I have lived in three or four climates in the past few days.

On Sunday, I left Regenstein Library at about 4:30 p.m. It was warm enough to walk the 1.3 mile comfortably, which would give me an opportunity to stop at Parker's Pets. Hodge needs more toys like I need more cat bite scars, but I wanted to see the store, and every moment he spends biting toys is a moment not spent biting me.

As I looked around the sky seemed odd. It wasn't right. Something about the feeling that it gave me reminded me of my dreams in which I'm at home, in my bedroom, looking out over the sunlit woods and field, and yet I am disturbed to find that this post-dawn light is shining at 10:00 p.m. A sensation that an apocalypse is night come over me, yet I convince myself that this is normal, that this is the way things are meant to be.

It was about the time of sunset, and the western sky was completely obscured by a very black, low-hanging cloud that seemed disingenuously ominous. To the east, the sky was as weirdly white and bright. At a time when the western sky should be filled with light and the eastern sky should be darkening, the reverse was true, and I felt odd and disoriented in time and space as I walked away from western darkness to eastern brightness, away from the sun and toward the light.

After the 0 degree F temperatures of last week, thermometers here hit 60 degrees F Monday. There was lightning when I left work, which has happened before in January but is disconcerting at this time of year. It seemed to be a distant storm, with very little thunder. For hours, sheets of lightning sporadically lit the sky over Indiana and Lake Michigan. On the bus and later, after midnight, I saw the lightning mainly from the corner of my eye, which sometimes made me wonder if I had seen it at all.

Tuesday morning was cooler, but still warm, with wind and rain. When I first looked out the window, I could see little through the rain and fog. It was clear when I poured coffee. It was foggy when I took the empty cup to the kitchen. It was clear when I got dressed. When I finally stepped outside, it was foggy again despite the wind.

By the time I arrived at Hyatt Center, there was a brief, faint hint of sunlight in the southern sky. After months of unbroken clouds and oppressive skies, even diffuse sunshine seemed as alien to me as the dream of 10:00 p.m. light. It also reminded me that spring must return someday, with its own varieties of disturbing weather--snow, rain, cold, heat, wind, storms, floods, and the soft sunshine of happiness, the light that puts life into perspective.

I'll be waiting.

Note added 10 January 2008: The sun was spotted briefly at sunrise today, although the clouds quickly consumed it. It is reassuring to know that it is still there in its many-splendored glory.

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