Sunday, September 7, 2008

Head in the Clouds

I went for a run yesterday morning. Tropical Storm Hanna was forecast to hit later in the day and I needed to get a run in before the weather came. It was humid. Steamy. Tropical, even. When I got to the top of East Rock the wind became slightly more insistent. The air seemed even thicker. And there were wisps of clouds below me. East Rock is only 365 feet above sea level, but it somehow seemed higher with a solid ceiling of grey above and smaller scraps of clouds blowing by below, between me and the rooftops of my neighborhood.
It reminded me of a time In Yemen when I hitched up out of the desert to a mountaintop village and then sat on the edge of the world looking back down 6000 feet at the sand of the Arabian Tihama. Huge birds of prey were riding the updrafts and I was absolutely convinced they were simply having fun in the wind, maybe having a contest to see who could rise the farthest without flapping her wings, (I still am convinced, in fact.)
I saw a tiny speck-of-a-cloud just above the desert sands far off in the Tihama. As I watched, this flimsiest wisp of water vapor blew inland and started to ride the wind up the face of the mountain I was perched atop. As it rose, it expanded and became more substantial.
It probably took about thirty minutes, but by the time it got to me at the mountaintop that tiny cloud had become a storm. I had seen it coming from miles away, yet still I just sat there and allowed the grey to engulf me. The temperature dropped twenty degrees in a minute, the wind picked up, and a fine mist soaked me to the skin. It is one of my favorite memories of my time in Yemen.

Hanna didn’t really live up to her advance publicity, but I do want to thank her for the memory.

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