We had the first thunderstorm of summer last night. The wind howled, the rain came down in sheets, lightning flashed, and thunder rumbled. When I awoke in the morning, the clouds were gone, the streets were wet, and most everything was still as-is. It was a storm, but it wasn’t a bad one.
Today, I mowed the lawn (once the summer sun had dried up most of the rain) and I found a baby bird in the grass, likely having fallen from his nest in the overnight storm. The bird was still alive and seemed to be doing well — and a few adult birds watched me as I neared the baby, so I hope the parents knew it was there. I worried about the bird, of whether I should try to put it back in its nest, but the nest was too high and if those adult birds were its parents, then it had mom and dad watching after it still. While I had gotten through the storm just fine, my feathered friend had not done so well.
The storms here in central Canada have certainly worsened with climate change. There have always been violent storms when I was growing up, but the frequency and severity of these storms has increased in the last ten years or so.
I still remember the first time I saw a storm so violent that it had snapped trees in half and torn others straight out of the ground. It wasn’t a tornado — we don’t get them here — it was just a violent storm. When I realized that entire trees had been knocked over, I had gotten on my bike and went on a ride through the neighbourhood, assessing the damage.
Nowadays, a snapped tree means nothing. Just last summer, a tree across the street from my house cracked and then split in half during a summer storm. A couple trees down the street had fallen over, destroying fences. I drove past them, barely giving them a second glance.
I think it’s easy to ignore the awesome power of nature, especially when we are comfy and cosy in our houses and apartments. We barely notice nature unless it does something unexpectedly destructive. Right now, huge swaths of Alberta (a province here in Canada) are still in flames. Forest fires are burning even closer to home, with several running rampant in my province of Manitoba.
But as I sit, comfy and secure in my house, I can’t help but think of that bird, of how one strong gust turned its world upside down. That one gust could have even ended the bird’s life — I will check on it tomorrow to see how it’s doing, if it’s even still alive.
When a thunderstorm happens, I love turning off all the lights, opening the curtains, and watching the violence of wind and rain. I love the sound of heavy drops pelting the roof and windows. Sometimes the brutality of nature can make me worried, even when I’m safely in my house. After all, houses are never completely safe — the wildfires in Fort McMurray, Alberta, make that clear. The falling trees after a violent storm show just how close people are from getting hurt in a storm, even if they’re in their houses.
But even in the fearsome violence of nature, there is life. Even now, in the charred remains of the forests of Alberta, insects are hard at work, creating new life in the devastation. Pinecones have opened and will soon being the process of growing into trees. Animals will soon return. Even in nature’s darkest hour, there is still life and activity. There is beauty in destruction. There is life in the aftermath of the power of nature.
And the next time we have a violent thunderstorm here, I’ll put on a pot of tea and snuggle up with my lover as we watch nature put on its spectacle. I will worry about the roof and the windows, about the possibility of hail or heavy rain causing damage, of me being like that baby bird — helpless in the face of nature’s power. But I will also get a thrill from the brilliant flashes of lighting and the wall-shaking rumble of thunder. I’ll snuggle up close to my lover and we’ll cuddle. Like the insects in the forest fires of Fort McMurray, my lover and I will be a spot of life and calm in a sea of nature’s chaos.
Cameron D. James is a writer of gay erotica and M/M erotic romance; his latest release is Seduced by My Best Friend’s Dad (co-written with Sandra Claire). He lives in Canada, is always crushing on Starbucks baristas, and has two rescue cats. To learn more about Cameron, visit http://www.camerondjames.com.