The blue striped sunshade rests against the tree, with what we hope are the last drips of today’s rain falling gently from its edges. It was sunny this morning and the sunshade was about to fulfil its purpose when the neighbour pointed out the dark brooding skies heading in our direction. You could see the rain falling from miles away, I could feel the wind in my face and knew that before long the sun which had long since been replaced by a white cloud was about to be obscured by yet darker cloud and one of those downpours that can occur at any time in the summer of south-west France. Last night had been one of storms, we ate our moules frites in the local marketplace constantly aware of the occasional spots of rain and even the odd flurry that maybe lasted a minute and went away before finally coming to stay late in the evening and soaking everything within minutes. The marketplace abandoned, the stallholders rushing frantically to cover their wares and stop the rain doing irretrievable damage to their stock. We drove home surrounded by thunder and lightning with rain falling so heavily it slowed us down. But when we got home we opened the doors and sat watching the storm as it played its way across the sky; bright sheets illuminating the whole of the sky, even brighter streaks of lightning flashing from cloud to cloud or crashing from cloud to earth. Each new illumination followed by thunderous rumbles and yet another downpour. The storms are spectacular, especially so if one is dry under cover watching the forces of nature play out across the skies until they finally drift away to excite someone else’s evening, leaving ours adrip from the trees and wet underfoot. A wet that will disappear in hours leaving you wondering if it really had been raining that hard.
So today’s rain has been presaged by something much more primal and would no doubt followed sometime by yet another of those storms that roll around the hillsides leaving our blue striped sunshade wondering whether it is in sunshade are an umbrella. Nothing is what it seems, everything is what we claim it to be.