The rumble of distant thunder grows louder as the storms approach. What once were indistinct growls become precise and explicit, signs that rain is a near-certainty. Still too dark for me to see whether the blur outside my window is rain or just a foggy mist, I can hear occasional raindrops pelting the roof. So, rain is not just a near-certainty; it is a fact. The weather forecast for today predicts early rain, followed intermittently by periods of  clouds and rain. Temperatures today will not reach 80°F, a most welcome deviation from the semi-constant heat of an ugly summer.

Rain, now coming down in sheets, has dissuaded me from taking my morning walk. But it’s not just the rain that convinces me to stay indoors; flashes of lightning, too, suggest discretion is the better part of valor. I read online news stories this morning that revealed  three people were struck and killed by lightning in Washington, DC, near the White House last week. The results of a study published in the November 2014 issue of Science  prompted researchers to predict the number of lightning strikes will increase by about 12% for every degree of rise in global average air temperature. I wonder whether the three people who died as a result of last week’s DC lightning strikes were as much casualties of global warming as they were victims of random cloud-to-ground (or ground-to-cloud) electrical discharges. Though I do not claim with absolute certainty that global warming caused by human activity is taking place, I’d place bets on it and feel confident of winning. So, I try to steer clear of circumstances in which I might invite electrical impulses to light me up. So, no walkies this morning.


Several times during the past few days I have seen groups of deer, ranging from two to seven or more (and, occasionally, just one). The deer appear to be growing less afraid of our presence on our isolated little cul-de-sac, but they are by no means tame; they are timid, but appear not to be panic-stricken. And when I can see them, as I look out my windows, grazing on the ground cover in front of the house, I sense they are absolutely comfortable in the presence of this human-made structure in which we live. I wish I could communicate with deer so we could understand one another’s thoughts; it would be insightful to know what they fear and I suspect they might be surprised to know what causes fear to well up in me. Such an absurd fantasy! But is it really absurd? We adults try to insulate ourselves from ridicule by pretending our fantasies are just reenactments of childhood experiences. That’s not true though, is it? No, it is not. We simply hide behind the barriers of adulthood, hoping to protect ourselves from recognition that we are still children at heart.


I’ve written as much as my fingers can process for the moment. Today, I get another haircut. At the same time, I get my beard trimmed.  During these moments, I ponder life and literature and longing. And off I go.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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