Chepstow

Hurricane

THE EYE OF THE HURRICANE by Barbara Shean

The birds had flown away; they had no songs to sing. There were no feathered wings floating in columns of warm, spiralling air, as they yearned to reach the stars. Small animals stayed hidden in the undergrowth, protected by instinct, or ignorance.

Above, such splendid rolling clouds, which earlier had jostled in haste to bring rain, had long since gone. In their place lay still, heavy clouds, ominous yet sentinel, protecting.

A warm cocoon of windless space wrapped itself around the landscape, sapping time and energy as greedy as the cries of the absent seagulls.

Nature stood guard as the winds stole away, absorbed in the outer edges of this quieter world. A welcome lull after the chaos they had caused long hours before.

Trees relaxed, offering their leaves in abundance to the still air; flexing their branches and standing tall, as if in defiance, or honour. The dunes, too, stretched lazily, as jewels in the sand.

Masts of saxifrage stood guard, sentries in pink and white, looking out to the approaching sea. On cue, the sea rolled majestically in on swelling, foam-topped waves, as frilly as flower blossoms falling on a windy day. Each wave rode higher, dwarfing the emerald glory of the trees, musical in movement, yet somehow orderly and consistent in form.

It wasn’t to last.

Too soon the leaves lifted in a livelier dance, tree branches swaying rigorously. Plumes of foam blossom were tossed higher in the air from unruly, damaging waves. The sea lurched forward as if the lock gates had opened, and the parched dunes lapped up the eager surge.

The sentries swayed in abandon. Whirls of sand blew up and around, led by the increasing wind.
Anxious not to be left out, the grass rippled alarmingly in the increasing tempo, and trees bent in homage to their new master, creaking and rustling, groaning and straining to the unseen conductor: harsh music in the now dim light.

Clouds darkened, rolling and rumbling, blown by a wind crazy in its strength. Fear took hold, scattering the clouds in all directions, reaching down to the waves to beg the sea to join the retreat. Branches hurled themselves into space, leaves scattered and blossom flew in all directions. A storm of sand and seawater drowned the air.

Suddenly the chaos calmed. The wind dropped quietly down as if collared and harnessed to a master’s hand. Clouds stilled and rolled in a more composed rhythm.

Trees rustled gently in a fitful breeze. Lost leaves and branches rested quietly together. The sun came out, warily at first, bathing nature in a gentle glow and instilling calm once again in the steady hum of life. The storm had passed.