Marilyn Gardner Woods
Updated: Oct 4, 2019
My writing mentor cautions that there are two things impossible to do any kind of justice to or to describe eloquently and accurately in words. The first, a sunset. The second an orgasm. As I try to recreate the spectacle, I witnessed on a recent visit with my son and his family, I think I need to add another. An Arizona thunderstorm.
Our day had been packed full of fun as the sun shone brightly and the temperature hovered mercilessly in the mid-nineties. As the impact of the days’ heat wore on, we opted for an air-conditioned movie, a tear-jerking family saga, which generated a flood of tears from my young grandkids and a sobbing tsunami from my daughter-in-law. Back into the heat once again we head for pasta and cool, this time a pleasant Italian restaurant. The wine flowed freely.
We ended our outing with a stroll around the City of Prescott’s centerpiece, the Courthouse Plaza anchored by the majestic granite, Neo-Classic Revival courthouse, my son leading the way. Just as we ended our promenade, large raindrops began to splat on the top of our heads and the hot dry sidewalks, sizzling and evaporating as they generated a dusty smell that made my nose itch. The shower accelerated and at the end of our dash to our car, we were soaked in the cool of a gentle rainfall.
It was moments later as we headed east for our twenty-five-mile drive home to Prescott Valley that the oncoming storm’s extravaganza erupted. The size and frequency of the raindrops exploded in intensity. The skies that had hovered above us all weekend, blue and cloudless, took this precise second to unveil a concert of vibrant billowing shapes and indescribable colors; kaleidoscopic visions, as far as the eye could see; swirling masses of chromatic puffy forms and sleek silver linings. We struggled to come up with proper descriptors.
“It looks like an amber mine.”
“Look at that violet edge to that cloud.”
“The deep grays are ominous, don’t you think?”
“Look over there – it looks like my latte this morning!”
Slivers of metallic golds and iridescent silvers peppered the deepening sapphire sky and combined with the intense coral palette of the setting sun and the steadily falling rain to create a remarkable sky-scape in constant flux. All the drama and power of a Baroque masterpiece burst forth above us.
We were completely enthralled in the the incandescent collage in the skies above when without fanfare, a new and grand vision appeared. “Look, look—there’s a rainbow!” from the backseat.
I can’t begin to count the rainbows I’ve seen in my life, but this night’s luminous technicolor arc reigned supreme. Wider, higher, lovelier than any before. It seemed to stretch ocean to ocean. If I could have stood on the hood of our car and splayed my arms as far wide as they would go, this rainbow was unreachable. The familiar red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet colorful ribbons far beyond the reach of my fingertips. It soared a hundred stories above us.
And just as the impact of the multi-colored curvature’s expanse struck us, a second appeared next to it, mirroring its’ prismatic offering.
“Wow, look. Another one!”
A careful observation of rainbow number two revealed an oddity; its colors were reversed and much fainter. The reds of the two rainbows faced one another. A pair as wide as the world and as high the heavens, the immensity of the duo was staggering. Monumental. No telling where the pot of gold might be, I thought.
With the raindrops sparkling, splashing and relentlessly descending upon the desert landscape and highway beyond us and the sunset creating a tonal explosion of exhilaration in the sky’s evening canvas, our reverie was suddenly shattered.
Lightning bolts exploded randomly throughout our darkening stormy sky. Electrifying jagged projectiles of dazzling neon white light detonated throughout the stormy wild blue yonder of the night. Left, right, above, behind! My daughter-in-law slowed the car’s pace as much for safety as for the opportunity to witness this star-spangled spectacle of light in the sky above and beyond.
Piercing cracks of florescence followed by thunder strokes of loud at breakneck speed. A ferocious pas de deux of noise and light. Boom. Double boom. Triple boom, boom, boom. We shuddered. And then silence.
And again, crack! More powerful than the last. A deafening booming in my ears.
The oohs and aahs of my little grandkids in the backseat called to mind so many Fourth of July fireworks celebrations we have shared.
Through the windshield in front of me the wondrous display of incredible beauty and the magic of nature continued chaotic and tranquil at the very same time.
And gradually taking a dramatic final bow, the storms clouds slowly dissipated, the thunder blasts quieted, and the lightning ceased leaving us the lonely cactuses on the side of the road and the buildings of Prescott Valley silhouetted in the evening sky as we drove the rest of the way home in silence.
A holy amazing end to a weekend in the Arizona desert.
When my loyal friend, David, read this piece of mine, he suggested a soundtrack - "Cloudburst," from The Grand Canyon Suite. Would love to replay the moment with this music from the car's speakers!
Wow! Heaven on earth🙏🙏🙏 What an amazing experience for you and your sweet family! Truly, a gift from God! I will share this with everyone I know❤️ Lou in Dallas
You captured me with the orgasm; of course I had to read the rest of the article. Beautifully written. I have spent most of my life outdoors and enjoying everything mother nature has to offer. My husband commented as I was standing on our front porch enjoying a thunder storm "It is really going to be embarrassing to tell people my wife was killed by a bolt of lightening." MM in Texas
A wonderful description, Marilyn!! I could see it and feel it, but to read it with the music in the background would be an awesome experience!! We had storms like that at our summer cottage in Ontario when I was young. We don’t usually get thunderstorms in Vancouver, but we do get beautiful rainbows, sometimes doubles like the ones you saw. Thanks for sharing!!
AZ thunder, lightening and rain storms in late afternoon are indeed spectacular! But this depiction.... a stunner!
Loved it! A.
So happy to be on your email list! I enjoy your writing. This last entry with the awesome rainbow and landscape photo was truly incredible! We lived in Arizona for four years. I always enjoyed the storms and weather changes. Never saw a sight like this one you captured! Thanks! PKP