Meditations of a Commuter - Stories

From high on the hill where the house is perched in Wavell Heights there is a panoramic view with the tops of the downtown skyscrapers just visible above the treetops on Taylor Street. A storm has been building up for several days because the humidity has been unbearable and oppressive. Perhaps if Vithar would just rip open the heavens and allow the downpour to begin, there could finally be some relief from heavy pressure!

Eventually an eerie green color begins to pervade the ominous cloud-filled sky, and even Frigg and Freija seem unable to dissuade the onset of the looming Asgardian display. The lightning begins over the city just before dusk as the low rumble of thunder lurks from afar. Odin’s son is on the move and even his mighty father, the Ruler of the Sky, does not stand in his path. All the lights in the house are turned off not just for safety but to heighten the atmosphere; the windows are shut and locked tight but the curtains and blinds are pulled back completely to maximize the view of the swirling clouds and oncoming spectacle. Queensland storms in early summer are truly spectacular with an astonishing variety of lightning accompanied by tremendous raucous bombardments of thunder.

My younger son and I sit in front of the big window in the master bedroom facing the city, watching and listening with great anticipation to what is about to unfold. The ever darkening and swirling clouds and lightning move closer and closer with the intensifying crash of thunder, played on some gigantic Valhallan cymbal. The multifarious thunder with its crackling sounds like a colossal percussion section played by Asvid and his disgruntled clan, mischievously conducted by Farbanti’s malicious son.

Over the roof a particularly explosive burst of thunder is deafening as if Rym himself has just beaten the skins of some gargantuan bass drum with his powerful hammer. The house shudders and intensifies the percussive vibrations in a key so low that it is felt even more than it is heard. The rain begins slowly and quietly, but within minutes becomes a cacophonic deluge, falling in huge violent waves of water and sound—one after another—as if sent by an enraged Aegir. Lightning in all its many shapes is superimposed with terrible majesty on a canvas of swirling grey clouds, tinted with black and green.

Each new lightning bolt seems to emanate from Hloridi himself. The wind rises up dramatically, and finally we hear the loud pelting of the hailstones, amplified greatly by the tin roof over the back porch. The continuous barrage of hailstones on the metal roof is unbelievably loud, clear and sharp, adding maniacal and boisterous articulations that drown out any attempt to converse.

The wind is powerful and erratic, making trees, shrubs and grass dance violently and submissively under its relentless intensity. The wind, howling through power lines and against houses, produces wild and exotic scales like a giant flute played by Odin himself. There is no discernible time signature or regular beat to this celestial tone poem, just immense, furious clusters of dissonance and rhythm. My son and I sit close together, enthralled by the sights and sounds, but comforted by being together in the safety of the house.

As quickly as it came it ended as if signaled by some divine cut-off. Hunin and Munin are already flying back to Valhalla to report to their royal master. We run out to the street with our neighbors to see children playing in several centimeters of hail and ice covering the subtropical suburb. Back in the music room water leaks down the inside wall, unable to drain through the gutters that are stuffed with ice.