Blinding light, thundering rain and cool mountain evenings   

Oct 24, 2020 | 17 comments

Perhaps I did not understand the remark correctly. He said, “I am moving away from Cuenca because the weather here is ‘getting old’.” I wondered what he meant but readily agreed that the mysteries of weather is as old as when unseen clouds drifted over an unpeopled world.

Is the weather really “getting old?” Well, the clouds do seem greyer this time of year, and when it is clear the sky is a bald pate so blue it seems to go on forever…and it does.

Personally, I find the weather to be unpredictable and invigorating — traits more commonly associated with youthful exuberance.

It is the season of blinding light, thundering rain, and cool mountain evenings…

The day brightens as the silvery gauze of clouds unwraps into thin air. Soon, the day is warmed as only an alpine sun can: early and deep. Buildings in my neighborhood, especially those freshly painted, are all aglow as early risers squint and stumble down the steps leaving El Centro and into the blinding light of another glorious morning. A local knife sharpener takes up his place of business on a wide park bench on the plaza of San Sebastian Church. Couples stroll by hand-in-hand, kids show up to charm us with their games and laughter. Bees busy themselves, the pollen-scented breeze sways flowers that are straining towards the sun.

By three o’clock a gang of unruly clouds begins to lay siege on the sky and within an hour they are fat with rain. The bloated clouds thunder. The rain comes tumbling down.

By early evening the mob of clouds will retreat to the highest mountain peaks, abandoning spent rain glistening on leaves, and cobblestone pools mirroring late-stage sunlight. Shoppers who escaped the barrage by pouring into cafes are refreshed as well, each returning to their tasks after an interruption celebrated with coffee and casual conversation.

By evening the exiled sun will have surrendered, abandoning the streets to scurrying dogs, late-night revelers, and a few last-to-leave shopkeepers. Soon even the warm glow of twinkling lights will wink out one-by-one. The night turns quiet and cool; a garrison of stars is all that will remain.

In the morning, Cuenca will again be bald-headed clear. The gauze of silver is again unraveled. Plazas will again buzz with activity. The afternoon will again give way to a fresh cache of clouds rumbling down the valley from hideouts hidden in the foggy mountain peaks. The night will, again host the solitude of quiet streets, barking dogs, and a canopy of stars.

And so it goes.

I disagree with the deserter; it is gravity that is slowly laying claim to age. The stockpile of weather is merely an opportune interloper that occasionally breaches defenses and seeps into bones chilling one’s gait and stiffening the resolve to find safe refuge. It signals to me that my body is showing signs of impatience, a brewing desire to join the eternal sky. This, to me, is what defines “getting old.”

I don’t know what the man meant about the weather getting old. It is as strong as ever; exuberant, exciting, fresh, and shows no interest in ever retiring.

Robert Bradley

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