Rain on Fire

Since I knew I would be working till 10:15 pm on Summer Solstice, I decided to celebrate the longest day of the year a day early, which for me simply means being outdoors until dark, embracing the beauty of creation.

After finding so many different wildflowers earlier in the week at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, I was curious to check out another loop that seemed just as promising, with the added bonus of a small stream running through it.

This time, it wasn’t the lady’s slippers that had me braking on the entrance road, but the sky.  Downtown Calgary is visible to the east, all but the tallest office towers of downtown obscured by the intervening landscape.  This night, curtains of navy blue virga rained down the left edge of downtown, with a slight angle towards the towers.  Shafts of “Jesus rays”, sunlight streaming through breaks in the clouds, slanted towards the right side of downtown.  Seeing as it was June 20, the anniversary of the start of the Flood of the Century last summer, the rain and the light pointing at the heart of the city seemed symbolic.

My fascination with the sky continued, the flowers of the field unable to captivate my attention today.  Even as I parked, a typical summer evening thunderstorm felt imminent, dark clouds looming and the wind stiffer than a breeze, a little bit wild.  Occasionally, the sun would break through and send warm light onto a distant hillside, and once, the one I was on.  A rainbow hung like a banner over a farm across the Bow River valley.

In the aspen grove, I played with slow shutter speeds to blur the trembling leaves.  When I came out the other side, the storm clouds seemed a little closer.  I kept looking back, watching a bright spot boil in a dark cauldron of clouds.  Lightning flashed above the eastern horizon.  Thunder rumbled.  The wind tousled my hair and carried the early-summer scent of wolf willow.  I dashed in front of the open shutter of my camera to add a human element to the scene.  The warm air took on a palpable pink tinge.  This is what it feels to be alive.

The hidden sun glowed orange behind the parking lot/visitor centre hill, painting the not-so-distant-anymore falling rain the colour of fire.  A rainbow persisted, joined by a paler twin.

The light faded, the raindrops started, and I put away my tripod and camera for the walk up the hill, noting that even though it’s not natural, I love the smell of rain on warm asphalt.


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