There is a storm forecast for tonight. My heart lifts and I know I will sleep deeply, as I do not when the night is still. As a child, when the storms were loud, the wind fierce, and the moon cast images on our bedroom wall, my sisters and I curled toward one another under the blankets. We did not speak to each other of our relief at the sound of thunder, or the drumming of rain on the roof. We knew the hallway to our room would be quiet,, there would be no stealthy footfalls in the night.
We feared the night. There was almost always a shadow on the wall, a creeping presence in the hall, just beyond the door.
But when Nature growled and lashed at the windows, I was free to listen, to watch the tossing, dancing shadows. Storms fascinated me, the sound of wind howling, screeching, were natural music. The shadows cast by the moon behind wind whipped trees became a frantic natural ballet that I could watch until my eyes grew heavy. I loved weather, any kind of weather. It reminded me that Nature was out there, beyond the window, dancing, shouting, making movies on the walls and music in the air.
The nights when Nature went about her business in relative quiet my sisters and I had to lie very still, parceling out our breath, trying to make ourselves invisible. The sounds of stealth and cruelty were soft and steady, creeping down the hall and standing behind the bedroom door. My ears picked up every whisper of clothing, every hoarse breath. My small heart raced and sweat beaded my face. My eyes shut tight, I believed if I couldn’t see IT, if I pretended to be asleep, IT would go back down the hall. I could hear familiar floorboards creak as IT made its way back to ITS lair. Sometimes.
Other times, the door opened slowly and even though I kept my eyes shut, my sleeping pretense only encouraged the boldness against me and my sleeping (?) sisters.
Weather nights, as I came to think of them, insured that there would be nothing moving heavily in the dark hallway. The sounds of waling winds, the roar of rain, and the images of frantic branches on the wall across from our bed lulled me to sleep. I always felt Nature was on guard outside our windows, warning IT to stay away, at least that night. After all, everyone knows children don’t sleep through storms, do they? They might wake and cry out at any time .
And so I came to worship the weather, watching every forecast , seeking sanctuary. The years have passed, there is no one at the end of my hall, and the only sounds in the night are from the myriad tiny animals that burrow through the leaves around my small mountain house. Still, when the clouds swell and darken, when I hear rumblings from the sky or wake to drumming on the roof, I smile, thankful that the weather is still guarding me, keeping me safe for the night. I sleep, deep and dreamless sleep.