THUNDER AND LIGHTNING

The night lights up with jagged streaks

that split across the sky,

Followed by a mighty roar

of thunder, as I try

not to listen to the cracks, as lightning

fills the night,

and heavy rains come falling down

above me where I lie

safe within the little hut,

a blanket over my head,

unable to drown out the sounds,

that fill my heart with dread.

Repeatedly the skies ring out

With thunder and my room

is shaken with the noisy sounds

that spell the sound of doom.

Sandra Lee Smith

Originally posted July 18, 2018

Updated September 3, 2018

Sandy’s footnote: most of the storms I write about aren’t from living in the high desert for the past 10 years, although we HAVE had some memorable ones–but I lived in Southern Florida for 3 years and storms there were a daily occurrence in the summertime. Sometimes, if you were out in your car when a storm broke over North Miami Beach, I would have to pull over and wait out the storm–the rain made it impossible to see where you were going.–sls

EXTREME TEMPERATURES

Whether Fahrenheit or Celsius

It’s all the same to me,

when the sun is baking hot

and much too warm to be

in the car or in your yard

You’ve got to have A/C

And there’s just a bit of shade

under wilting trees;

Only snakes and lizards seem

to thrive in the desert heat,

And children beg for popsicles

for their daily treat;

We long for rain and wind and cold

and soon enough, it’s here,

Torrential rains that flood the streets,

and its mudslides that we fear.

The desert winds are bitter cold

and chill one to the bone,

and out come scarves and mittens and

a heavy coat  that’s warm;

From cupboards come the blankets and

the quilts and heating pads,

to keep the children snug and warm

While your mothers have your dads;

Or perhaps a cat or two

that nestle by your feet,

(or a small warm puppy dog,

whose warm coat can’t be beat)

Whatever it may be, I guess,

the desert is extreme,

From roasting hot to icy cold

and not much in between!

Sandra Lee Smith

Originally posted July 22, 2010

Updated on a hot September 2nd, 2018

 

WHEN WINTER COMES

The first indication is the change in the atmosphere, a feeling that comes into the Antelope Valley, as you look up and see the rustle of the leaves…gentle, at first, then more robust, as the tree branches sway and leaves begin to fall in earnest.

Clouds roll into the skies above us, white-cotton-candy clouds at first, then pink and purple clouds, the kind that mean business.

Then come the winds, sharp and purposeful winds that take your breath away if you are outside, making rumbling noises in the chimney and fireplace. It’s coming, you think, will there be a transition from summer to autumn or will we skip autumn altogether and fall directly into the sharp cold winds of winter?

It’s a good day to make beef and barley soup, or French onion soup, or even vegetable soup, simmering on a back burner; its a good day to mix the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies or oatmeal raisin or –to have a fire in the wood burning stove and wrap yourself into a quilt and read a book.  Or, it’s a good day to stay in bed, especially if you the sounds of an oncoming thundershower.

I like the change of seasons but not quite as much as those we were used to in the san Fernando Valley.

The changes in seasons are more abrupt, more drastic, in the high desert.

Sandra Lee Smith

Sandy’s note: if you are wondering why I am writing about windstorms when the weather here has been scorching hot–despite the heat, we have had high winds that are a force to be reckoned with–while in other states and other countries, there have been terrible rains and floods.

Originally composed October, 2012, updated July 8, 2018

RAIN

RAIN:  We take it so much for granted,

The beauty of dark clouds gathering in the west,

Traveling eastward,

Bringing with them a deluge of rainfall

that washes everything clean,

refills the watershed north of us,

splashes wondrously on the parched earth

and is soaked up greedily, like a sponge.

Birds find little puddles to hop into,

spreading their wings and dousing themselves,

taking a good bath–

(you never know when you’ll get your next one);

It rains and rains and then rains some more,

while people grumble and complain of the need

to drive to work in pouring rain,

while those of us who can stay home do

and make a pot of soup or a pan

of brownies, sometimes standing

in the rain, outside your back door

just to feel it in your face;

it does not come without a price tag,

these rains;

There will be accidents on the freeways,

people determined to drive

as though the roads were clear and dry;

There may be mudslides,

and as the storm heads east

and crosses through the desert,

there may be flash floods

deadly to encounter,

as quickly gone as they came.

I love a rainy day;

I love it most

when I am sitting warm and dry

inside my house–

and if there is thunder?

and lightning?

I am reminded of my childhood in Ohio

burrowing deep under covers,

feeling safe in my childhood home

while bolts of lightning

illuminated my room.

There was never any fear

from the storm.

I was safe, always safe,

my parents always nearby.

This is what a big storm

always reminds me of —

RAIN – we take it so much for granted –

until there is a drought.

SANDRA LEE SMITH originally posted October 17, 2012 updated June 8, 2018

(You may wonder–rightly so–why I am writing, writing, writing about rain on a very hot, cloudless summer day–think of it as a kind of rain dance)

 

A MOUNTAIN MORNING

The air is crisp and cool

On a mountain morning,

and it takes a while for the sun

to reach over the tops

of the tall pine trees;

The smell of coffee reaches the loft

Where I sleep

When I am visiting my mountain-dweller friends,

And I lay under the quilt

Contemplating the day.

Ebony gives a joyful bark

When Steve asks her

if she wants to go outside.

I hear them go out to the patio

where birds are chirping

an d feeding on seed

in the bird feeder.

squirrels come down to investigate

and see what is there for them

and sometimes a deer may be spotted

Treading softly amongst the trees.

Nearby, MJ’s sister, Diane,

Has been visited by a bear

Who climbed a tree

To steal all of her plums,

While Cracker Jax barked

Ferociously

From behind the screen door.

There is a different pace

On a mountain morning.

We sip hot coffee and think about

What to do today

Or what not —

Perhaps we will all sit and read

Our books and magazines.

They are great readers,

My mountain friends,

And have walls and walls of bookcases

Filled with books;

I can spend hours

Just reading book titles.

On a mountain morning a few years ago,

We were snowed in and watched the snow fall

From inside, there it was cozy and warm.

Pine Mountain is a good place to visit

But I don’t want to live there,

It is too isolated and separated

from the rest of the world

to suit me for very long

Sandra Lee Smith

Written June 2, 2009

Updated June 21, 2018

 

SOLSTICE – THE WANING OF THE LIGHT

Comes the time the days grow short

As the night hours lengthen;

We watch the skies with anxious hearts

As ancient rituals beckon;

From deepest fears, the failing light

Demands a constant vigilance

To protect the mother earth

Until again days lengthen;

Ancestors knew the solstice was

for all within the clan,

A time for preparation to

Save the tribe from winter’s span,

From starvation or the cold

as ice and snow sweep through the plains.

The waning of the daylight was

a warning to all men

Be cautious now, take special care,

Observe the darkened skies,

We keep a watch to save us from

A waning of our lives.

Sandra Lee Smith

written October, 2009

FROST

When Jack Frost comes to visit,

Though his visits here are rare,

He dashes through just briefly,

To let us know he cares;

He paints a thin white coat of ice

All across the lawn,

with a brush he splashes bushes,

and just like that he’s gone.

The sun comes up and glitters

On the land it shines upon,

As it melts away the traces that

Jack Frost has painted on.

 

Sandra Lee Smith

March 2009,

THE WIND

WIND AND SAND CREATE MAJESTIC DUNES THAT ARE CONSTANT BUT EVER-CHANGING, THEY MOVE ACROSS THE DESERTS, SING TO THE WIND AND INSPIRE OUR CREATIVITY – PROF. WAYNE ARMSTRONG

The harsh, hot winds blow across the dry, high desert Mojave landscape, Constantly, relentlessly;  Devil Winds, say some tribes of Indians. others call it Diablo.

In the Pacific Northwest, the winds are called Chinooks,

and in France it is known as the Mistral,

While in Austria and Germany, the Winds are called The Foehn;

But in California, everyone recognizes the Santa Anas,

which, strictly speaking, must be gusting

at least 25 knots to be an authentic Santa Ana.

It dries out the skin of the hardiest cowboy

and bits of sand blow into his eyes,

obstructing his vision.

Tumbleweeds blow across the scrubby desert floor

while the wind sweeps through, gaining speed

as it races through the canyons,

and the more knowledgeable travelers

scan the skies for any sign of fire.

 

Sandra Lee Smith

March, 2009

A RAINY DAY

it’s a rainy day in the antelope valley; Rainstorms in the high desert are unlike any I have experienced before.

Ominous black clouds roll in from different

directions,

sometimes from the east, sometimes from the west

and there is a sudden downpour

It feels like a deluge and suddenly stops.

The sun comes out. I spy a rainbow.

More dark clouds roll across the skies and suddenly

we have gusts of wind – and Can it be? Hail!

The back yard is covered with tiny white balls of ice;

The sun returns, briefly, long enough to melt the ice

and I realize the runoff cascading down our street

is a raging river.

I am afraid to venture out in this weather,

Content to start a pot of vegetable beef and barley soup

It simmers gently on the back burner;

the clouds lift, fleetingly,

long enough to reveal foothills covered with snow.

I marvel at the sight of snow, so close by

I can see it from my living room window.

its a different kind of rainy day

than I am used to experiencing;

I think I will have to find

some rubber boots

so I can walk in the rain!

 

Sandra Lee Smith

Originally drafted February, 2009