Pounding rain, so heavy that the usual places flooded and then some. Storms all night, lightning spears flashing down, followed by thunder to wake the quick and the dead. Shields of rain-thickened clouds streaming up from Mexicos New and Old, coloring the radar yellow with green fringe that swirl and churn, fading to dark green before returning with red speckles. Below the colors, unseen by radar, people wade through low spots and drive carefully, for once taking heed of the signs that read “If sign under water, do not enter underpass.” And slowly, after one last outburst of temper that floods main streets and sends work crews in a smaller town scrambling to deepen ditches and open part-blocked culverts in the dark, the storm passes to the east, turning Oklahoma and Kansas radar green.The sun rises dim, hidden by the storm-wall to the east. The second time it appears, albeit faintly, it reveals a new range of mountains on the western horizon. Or so it seems: a rugged, blue-purple replaces the familiar long flatness, as if the storms had washed the Sangre de Christo and Manzano Mountains down the long slope and left them only a few tens of miles away. The short grasses in the foreground take on new reddish hues, colors brought out by the light and the rain. A meadowlark carols from atop a dirt pile, reminding the wet world just who owns the place. The mountains soften and draw closer, the clouds ahead of a cold front that chases the storm.
Mid-morning comes with crisscrossing grey clouds, whiter ice feathers peeking through on occasion. By the time the clocks’ hands touch at noon, the lowest scud has run south, pinwheeling around the outer bands of the low pressure system, chased by northwesterly winds. The world smells wet and hearty, with a cool, clean bite under the earthy scents. More meadowlarks fossick about in the clumps of brown grass, disappearing from sight, perfectly camouflaged until one leaps up onto the corner of the fence to sing and reclaim his claim to the land.
The sky hangs low enough to touch. The rain-cleared windshield disappears, leaving nothing between the eye and the heavens. Faint blue high distant arc of the heavens, wisps of ice cloud, lower soft grey patches all seem close enough that driving uphill will turn into flight. Pull back on the steering wheel, push the throttles forward, and rise into the clouds, soaring among the soft remnants of the storm.
The sky clears by late afternoon, leaving a hard blue shell behind. The clean light of a white-yellow sun shines through gold, orange, and yellow leaves, plays in the orange-red hawthorn berries and deepens the remaining green. As the sun touches the western horizon, it gilds everything with that beautiful, rich light artists so prize. Trees and bushes glow before fading into shadow when the first hard crystal stars appear.
The skies of autumn never stay, never linger to grow stagnant and tired. They change, shifting from dust-filled gold to crisp high-desert blue and then disappear behind the soft, grey-yellow snow-sheep of winter. Falls skies, more humble than the storm towers of spring, change with the hour and minute, speeding to match the shorter days.