Thursday March 20, 2003 11:38 PM
Watercolor Days

We've had some beautiful weather here the past couple of days.

Yesterday it was gray and rainy as I was driving into work and everybody was driving a little slow for my taste. The weather was just chilly enough that I had the window half open to keep the windshield from fogging up. My arm got a little wet, but I had a jacket on anyway so it was actually rather nice.

As the day progressed my coworkers and I watched the clouds gather turning the overcast into darkness. Soon lightning ripped through the black sky and rain deluged the landscape. Our building gets a pretty lousy quality of service from the power company and we were lucky to have escaped the electrical outage and subsequent computer down-time such weather frequently brings us.

Late in the afternoon the trend reversed. The temperature rose as the clouds rolled back and the sun blazed through. When I went out to the van everything was clear and bright. The air was transparent in the way it is only after an early spring storm and smelled of the earth reawakening from its winter slumber. Colors were vibrant, edges and corners were crisp and sharp. The beauty was breathtaking.

The window was open all the way as I drove home and the more I saw, the more delightful it was. I had left early to get home in time to pick up Ruth and Isaiah and meet Rupie at Pizza Hut by 5:30. From time to time the preschool Isaiah attends has a deal with Pizza Hut so that they get a cut of the profits and this was one of those nights.

I'm glad I left early, too. The sky had cleared and the sun sang forth through the few vestigial shreds of cloud in a sky of pristine azure. The clarion rays it showered down sparkled and splashed off every surfacein a dazzling fountain of light. The rain had washed the world with water, now the sun washed it with light. Puddles of silver caught the light everywhere refracting it back like nuggets of mirror strewn randomly by the hands of the elements.

My eyes drank in the panorama around me. It was like a watercolor painting. The light caught every sharp edge, but the surfaces were washed with coruscating shades of blended colors, solid and distinct, yet fluid and bright. When my view expanded to the right and left as I rose over the Mississippi River on the bridge I cross twice every day, I breathed deep of the fresh springtime air and a beam of golden light penetrated my mind etching the image of the immense watercolor around me into my memory and signing it with the name of nature.

We made it to the restaurant by 5:35 and found Rupie waiting at a table. It was a good thing she'd gone ahead and gotten a table and placed our order. The place was like Bedlam. It was packed and kids less well behaved than Isaiah were running amok. This was as expected.

It's always like this on these preschool nights. One neat thing was that when we'd sat down, we realized that Ms. Susan, our favorite librarian, and her family were sitting at the next table. She attends the church that runs Isaiah's preschool. The service wasn't very fast, but they were stretched pretty thin for the crowd they had. We had taken the next-to-last parking spot in the lot.

When the pizza finally came it was wrong. Rupie had ordered pepperoni and hamburger but we got pepperoni and bacon. This was fine with me, of course, but a little disappointing since Rupie wasn't fond of the combination. We all ate it, though, because Ruth, Isaiah, and I had to be across town at church at 7 and it was 6 before we got anything to eat. To the manager's credit, they made the right pizza while we ate the wrong one and gave it to us for free. They weren't going to charge us for either of the two pizzas, but since we were there for the preschool I insisted on paying for one of them at least. I did not, however, argue when she wanted to take $5 off the price of what we'd originally ordered.

The sky was overcast and rainy on my way in to work again this morning, but it was a little warmer. The sky had brightened and the sun was shining when my buddy Ed and I went to the gas station a couple of miles away from the office for drinks and chips to go with the leftover pepperoni and hamburger pizza at lunchtime. It was warm and sunny.

When it was time to come home the clouds had returned. The sun was obscured, but the sky was still amazing. It had taken on a different kind of beauty. The flat overcast of the morning had given way to a chiaroscuro of glowing clouds, blue, gray, white, and silver that seemed to be lit from within. The heavens were filled with windblown sheets of liquid pewter and billowing tatters of frayed and faded denim.

The world was a watercolor once again, but instead of silver, gold, and cerulean blue, the palette today was of filtered, suboceanic indigo, bright green and wet black. With the precipitation of the past two days the ground was turning wildly and verdantly green as anything with chlorophyll in it deeply drank the moisture in the wet soil.

The contrast of colors could, like yesterday, only be described as breathtaking. The rolling gray-blue in the sky that seemed infinitely far away in the same instant that it seemed like I could reach out and touch it and the stark black and green on the ground were every bit as beautiful as yesterday's blazing reflections and yet they evoked an emotion entirely different.

Both watercolor days were intensely moving separately, but the two considered together formed a sort of temporal diptych profoundly and joyously uplifting- the kind of spiritual stirring that makes me wonder how anyone could deny the existence of a caring Creator.