A storm in the desert

You know that John Denver song that goes, “You fill up my senses … like a storm in the desert”? I’ve had that stuck in my head since 5 o’clock this morning, when I woke to the sound of rain and wind lashing against the walls.

There is nothing like a New Mexico thunderstorm. You can see storms coming for miles out here, but they still surprise you with their power: the abrupt shift in the air pressure, the stampede of tumbleweeds scurrying hell-for-leather across the landscape, the sudden rain that bursts out of a thunderhead all at once, as if the drops know they don’t belong here and are racing down in a frantic effort to reach the ground before someone catches them and sends them away. Best of all is the lightning — great crackling arcs that rend the sky and leap from point to point in bolts so bright and clear that they leave a sort of photographic negative behind your eyelids for the next five minutes, white darkening to blue and violet every time you blink.

It’s stormed off and on all day in Coldwater, letting up just twice: once around noon, when the rain slowed and the sun came out long enough to project a double rainbow bright as neon onto the vast, open sky, and again just before 8 o’clock this evening, when a break in the clouds allowed a dazzling sunset to set a receding cloudbank on fire for a few glorious minutes.

I’ve spent most of the day hanging sheets and towels from the makeshift clotheslines that bisect the lobby, pouring mugs of coffee and hot chocolate for road-weary travelers, and wishing Grant were here, curled up on the couch next to me, sipping a macchiato and watching the rain draw sideways Morse-code signals down the front window.

Nineteen days….

— Sierra



  1. Michael · May 16, 2010


    Pure poetry….

    However, now I have an earworm: “Sunshine on my shoulders….”


  2. tumbleweedmotel · May 16, 2010

    Hey — at least I didn’t drop a Manilow reference. A friend of mine once hummed “Mandy” for three solid weeks. She assures me that it was, in fact, as nightmarish as it sounds.

  3. Pingback: Prioritizing « Red Fork State of Mind

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