Thus, I was not moved to write about the startling breakup of Mr. and Mrs. Tom Cruise. Anderson Cooper’s shocking admission of 100 percent gayness barely registered at all. I didn’t even care that scientists have finally determined why supermarket tomatoes taste like stale water.
Out here in the non-coastal West, among people who have no plans to acquire or upgrade an iPad, the news skews to the hyperlocal: the heat, the lack of rain, the degree to which nearby wildfires have been contained. The talk is of gardens, of corn that is surprisingly short for this time of year and strawberry plants that don’t seem to be producing.
Oh, I still have an aunt who thinks Obama is the spawn of Satan, a few relatives who believe the biggest threat to America is gay marriage and the imaginary erosion of gun rights. But I have learned to maintain a bemused silence when those topics drift past. Thus do we enjoy our time together.
Yesterday we dropped by the old ranch and Mom threw together a picnic lunch we ate on a table in the yard: boiled wieners and a couple of salads and watermelon and deviled eggs and, later, ice cream. Politics didn’t come up. We talked of other things. Some clouds were billowing up in the west and occasionally we’d get up and gaze in that direction for portents of rain.
The portents were good. Forty miles out, great cloud formations came on trailing veils of gray. After a long spell of dry heat, it was a welcome sight.
We were just getting ready to leave when the first of the storms arrived, on the heels of a rising wind and a few cold drops on the dusty drive. Nothing like the smell you get when cold rain spatters onto dry wood and weeds and dust. Lightning laced the clouds — horizontal, vertical or interesting combinations of the two. Thunder rolled.
Having lived in Kansas, I will not say that Montana thunderstorms are the most dramatic I’ve ever seen. But they do have a unique quality, the power to transform the day and whatever mood you might have been feeling before. We drove home through a series of intense downpours and buffeting winds. Despite the lightning, I felt sure this kind of rain would quickly quench that particular fire that’s keeping us from reaching the cabin we plan to fix up over the next week or so.
Still waiting to learn if that’s true. But in any event, a hard rain after a dry spell is important news. I’ll catch up on Anderson Cooper later.