Cambridge, Mass., to New York City, May 31, 2015

★★★★ Intermittent fine showers wetted down the deck and then allowed dry patches to form before wetting it down again. A cardinal landed on the side fence and a robin landed on the next fence over. Pale tree parts blew down at an angle. At car-loading time, new drops made big dots on the driveway. The showers came on harder, in blinding squalls on the Mass Pike and on down I-84, punctuated by long pauses that made it seem the rain was spent and inspired cars to speed up on the now manageable pavement. The ordinary rolling tree-softened hills of Connecticut were veiled in layered mists and slashed with shocking greens like a mystical Chinese landscape painting. With each new fold of mist came sudden flinching brake lights and then the waters slamming into the car again. The roadway smoked; rain hammered down on the metal of the slow-moving roof. The most panicked drivers put on their flashers, even in the left lane. The darkness was like nightfall. Ghastly twisted black shapes loomed above the hilltops. Lightning struck with a percussive, nearby snap. A motorcycle, speeding greedily down the center line between crawling cars, came out of the gray mists from the rear to find a black Tacoma changing lanes — the cyclist, with no hope of stopping, veered and threw down a foot and just barely angled along the flank of the pickup truck to reach the inner shoulder alive. Everything continued: the gray, the waves of rain, the silver wind-whipped foliage. A broken chunk of tree, ends new-sawn, lay on the bank beside the parkway, the turf behind it showing a deep fresh black gouge. The road reached the city, and an ordinary city rain. Lightning forked in the distance above an ugly pink apartment building. People were out lugging grocery bags or slogging along, under umbrellas or in ponchos or just drenched in their clothes, caught somehow unawares.

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