Darkness shrouded the eastern horizon, the faintest hint of sunshine still well below the landscape. I ventured out into a new day after saying my goodbyes to The Kids. We would not share time together this day for my journey had just begun.
Supplies neatly packed into the car, my camera and bag set in the passenger seat within easy reach, I backed out of the garage and drove into the predawn hours.
Interstate 20 runs through Texas like an east-west artery carrying all manner of traffic right through the heart of the DFW metroplex. The highway would be my primary landmark for three hours during my trip to the family farm.
Settled comfortably into the car with coffee in hand, I let the sound of Annie Lennox serenade me into deep places of thought and emotion, places sometimes shadowy and sometimes brightly lit. Her poetic, sentimental voice brushed my cheek gently with each chorus, each verse, and I let her lead the way even as the Lexus practically drove itself on our familiar course eastward.
When finally almost an hour later the sun began spilling into the sky, it clashed ominously with thunderstorms forming in my path.
Crepuscular rays pierced the clouds where they could not hold back the sunshine. In my reverie I could not help but notice the profound beauty of the scene, so I made my way off the interstate to the service road where I could stop long enough to drink from this magnificent cup.
The storms seemed intent on robbing from the sun every opportunity to shine, and all too soon the horizon turned dark behind towering shadows. Disappointed yet satiated all the same, I returned to the confines of the vehicle and rejoined the tide of automobiles pouring eastward toward the storms.
Yet our warm star had not completed its attempts to penetrate the growing tempests, to pierce through the dark blanket with swords of light.
I felt drawn in even as I drove, eventually holding the camera out the window to capture the scene as best I could. I knew it would vanish before I could pull over and stop, something it had already done to me twice after my first pause.
Only ten minutes passed betwixt those images, only ten minutes for the sky to change over and over and over again. I knew the storms grew rapidly, violently rending control of the sky from both the night and the day. And I drove right toward them.
Twenty minutes later brought the first rain of the morning, a powerful yet small storm that slowed traffic and captured my attention with celestial grandeur befitting a god. What stunning designs it painted!
Again I eased off the road and parked behind a truck resting through the show. I fought to protect the camera from the driving rain as I attempted to steal from this magic a bit of its glory.
Looking in all directions made me realize the wonder I felt could never be appreciated except by those in the moment with me, those capable early that morning of taking in the whole of the scene with their own eyes. Only from horizon to horizon did the storm’s arresting potency become manifest.
It was the first of three such storms through which I drove that morning whilst making my way from Dallas’s urban core to the majestic silence of East Texas’s Piney Woods. It was the first of three artists drawing patterns in the sky.