11 May 2012

Thunderstorm, Big Bend National Park

The storm approached slowly, distant murmurs and mild patter and haphazard flashes, like a hesitant stranger stammering around the mountains that ringed my campsite.  Upon meeting the looming basalt monolith—Casa Grande, the watchman of the Chisos—the clouds erupted.  The raindrops on the tent beat like applause, accompanied by a thousand flashbulbs and a roar of appreciative thunder.  Pleased with the attention, the storm intensified and the rain popped like bacon frying, and then popcorn, and then firecrackers.  The lightning became a strobe light, and the thunder a jet engine.  The storm grew more insistent, the flashes lighting up mountains like midday and piercing my clenched eyelids.  Artillery shells of thunder pealed across the Chisos, and the sound was more felt than heard, like the dragging of heavy furniture across a rough wooden floor.  Hail fell in the desert, white pebbles of life for the parched sotol, agave, and ocotillo.  And then…silence.

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