We sat on the second-floor, long balcony looking at a panoramic view of the Florida sunset as we waited for the fireworks to begin. Sipping pina coladas and nibbling on canapes, the five of us watched the sun dip down below the tropical vegetation and the inlets of brackish water headed for the gulf.
Suddenly, dramatic, dark clouds rolled across the sky and shut out the blue. Lightning flashed. Thunder rumbled. The time between them lessening as the massive storm crawled overhead. As if a faucet had been turned on, so much water dumped from these clouds that the landscape was obscured from view. The rain lashed the screens and patio doors covering the outside of the lanai.
“Oh, golly,” one of the guests who had just moved to Florida said, “I’ve never seen such rain as there is down here! I was driving the other day, and a storm came out of nowhere! I couldn’t see a thing in front of me! I was terrified!”
“Oh, don’t worry,” responded a young woman who has been a full-time Florida resident. “No one else can see anything either.”
We all laughed. Lightning flashed with a loud crash at the same time. We screamed. Then, noticing we had not been struck dead, laughed again.
But, like the new resident who had spoken, I, too, have never experienced anything quite like the summer storms of Florida. In fact, I have never seen cloud formations like the ones here. One day, after just arriving, I looked up at the intensely blue sky and gawked at a massive structure–puffy white clouds piled one top of the other to form something like Mount Everest floating gently by. I watched it with wide-eyed awe
The rain outside the balcony passed as suddenly as it had arrived, but the storm clouds lingered high above. The rain comes and goes here so quickly. It can be pouring on one side of the street and the sun shining on the other. It’s not at all like the kind of rain in Connecticut that I have known. A rainy day there is just that….usually an entire day when the sky is a blanket of flat somber gray with hours or days of rain–dull, dreary weather that some people love, but I find depressing. Oh, yes, we had our summer storms—some pretty impressive, but nothing like the kind I was witnessing at the moment. The random lightning/thunder never seemed to pause, as these behemothic clouds roiled above. Bolt after bolt shot down constantly accompanied by instant loud crashes.
I thought of my beloved dogs who used to tremble, drool, and pant wild-eyed at the slightest distant rumble of thunder. They would have died of fright at this. I was glad I had not moved to Florida while they were alive. Had I been alone now, I would have scurried back into the house. But being with people was comforting. The continuing bolts of lightning elicited yelps and laughter from our small group.
We were in the middle of spectacular, heavenly fireworks. There were so many constant blinding white jagged lines streaking down to the earth, I could not imagine why the world was not on fire. After a half hour or so of this, we did hear a siren…someone answering some alarm.
The clouds were massive and thick, but varied in density, so that often light showed through the dark shapes. The setting sun turned these lighter areas pink and gold. At one point there was even a hole where we could see clear, blue sky and red-tinged clouds high above.
We all whooped as particularly powerful streaks of lightning shot to the ground.
“Yikes,” the new Florida resident spoke with a hush as the Sky God’s Show went on, “I have never in my life seen anything like this! This is pretty unusual, right?”
“No,” the host said. “This is pretty much what happens in July and August in Florida!”
We yelled in unison as another spectacular display of lightning lit up the sky. The scene looked primeval to me. I felt I was watching the earth eons ago when deserts were covered with water. I would not have been surprised to see dinosaurs rise up from the waters below to roar defiantly at the thunder gods who created them.
Surprisingly, in the middle of all this, the town’s fireworks began to the left. Against the gigantic displays in the sky, they seemed like delicate little sparkly flowers. In our agreed upon estimation, they were no competition against The Sky God’s program. Our eyes were distracted time and again to the bursts of startlingly bright bolts slashing down from the clouds.
I sipped my drink and quietly congratulated myself for venturing into such a wild, new world.
It certainly isn’t boring.