Like an anxious spike high on the thermometer, a hot summer day can hold a whole lot. The heaviness of the past, the humidity of future-tripping, the density of a too-tightly-packed schedule. It’s life, intensified, with everything being experienced at once. Like the sound of the cicadas rolled into one giant buzz or the morning glory vines inching back into your freshly weeded garden, the tangle and overwhelm of summer is real on almost every level.
But just when you hit the height of I-can’t-take-it-anymore, that late afternoon moment when the humidity is thick enough to cup in both palms and you can’t do anything but lay with your head in the river, comes the most gracious blessing of all— the afternoon thunderstorm.
And it is a veritable downpour of medicine.
Here in southern Appalachia, afternoon rainstorms are an almost daily occurrence, and a near universal cause for a ceasework and celebration. It never fails to stir me. Out of the bright, bright heat the sky suddenly darkens, like the querulousness of my own tangled mind, and everything prepares for the release.
Sometimes there is lightening. Sometimes thunder. Sometimes everything gets so quiet beforehand, it is as if the world is holding its breath. It’s the still point before the burst, the voluntarily destruction, the relief. And out of the thunderclap comes the rain.
Loud, blessedly loud, and forceful in its clearing. Summer thunderstorms are insistent and brash, like that friend who always tells it like it is, and will order you to rest when you are leaning wearily towards the end of the day. In the downpour everything stops to drink. Trees drip in exuberance, creeks swell instantly. The hot concrete hisses and cools like snakeskin come evening. The world becomes a baptism, the mist off a waterfall. And there is nothing to do but surrender to the cacophony of falling water. Of cool sheets and easy breathing. And nowhere else to go in your mind but here, into the sound of the world being renewed.
Afterwards, the temperature swings down low, so low it feels impossible that it was ever so hot before. Impossible that you ever once felt immovable with worry, anxiety, or overwhelm. The trees breathe out in great mists, creating the clouds that move over these mountains, giving them their smoke. You can almost see your own exhale as it deepens… deepens…
In the hottest, tensest, most complicated moments of knots and puzzling and trying to make all of life grow, a blessed reprieve comes in… and you unfold.
This is the medicine of a summer storm.
No matter where you are in the world, or what complications have been tying you up in vines and feelings of tiny enclosures, may this medicine touch you. The expanse, the exhale, the cleansing.
Through this post I’m sending this experience of rain, and relief and cool winds… just in case you needed it. And the reminder that no matter where you are in your life, there is always a reprieve just when things feel most difficult.
psst… want to create some summer thunderstorm herbal kitchen witchery? Check out my recipe for Dark Magic Reishi Maple Truffles.