A perfect storm

It was my last day in Italy and I decided to get the bus down the mountainside to the coast and spend the day swimming somewhere off Trieste's rocky coastline. But the universe had other plans. Just as I'd crawled out of the water after my first dip and put my sarong down on the ground as a 'towel', the clouds started to gather and an electric storm started to appear on the horizon. One man encouraged me to get moving: 'the rain is coming' (why are people of all nations so loathe to get wet in the rain, particularly here where most of us had been in the sea anyway?)I was given the idea to walk up the coast to Miramare, a classic castle with extraodinarily beautiful grounds set picturesquely at the edge of a promontory along the rocky coast nearby. A half a mile or so up, however, the storm caught up with me and I found myself sheltering at a beach cafe positioned on the cobbled stones next to the sea. I sat myself down at a wooden table under a small verandah and watched the storm move towards me.Soon there was a small group of us gathered there - a Croatian couple who were push-biking across Europe, a sparkly-eyed Belgian couple who had been rained off the 'beach' and a French guy who was attempting to take pictures of the lightning without a tripod... and not having a lot of luck. We joked about having the 'best seats in the house' and talked about the ever-more-evident reality of a changing climate, having shared stories of how in each of our native countries (barring my own) there had been untypically hot weather, electric storms and flash floods in the past week or so.Anyway, at this point a text came through from a certain Italian man asking if I wanted 'rescuing' from the inclement weather. I didn't really feel the need to be rescued as I was quite enjoying the storm and didn't mind being drenched (the air was quite warm). But sometimes it's kind of nice to let someone rescue you if they want to and so I conceded.Twenty minutes or so later he turned up, we waved a cursory goodbye to the group and we drove up along the coast, past the castle Miramare to a perfectly positioned restaurant on the sea. We sat down by the open window just as the sun started to peep out in the space between the clouds. Ahead was only sea, and the picturesque sight of 'mussel catchers' bobbing up and down upon it - their colours, apricot-peach pink, moody grey and white - exactly echoing the colour of the storm clouds to either side.Again we'd been treated to the 'best seats in the house', as we witnessed a beautiful scene play out in the sky in front of us. As the storm on the left, which was moving progressively south across Slovenia and Croatia (from our left to our right) met the storm on the right - which appeared to be moving north - the air current moved in such a way as to create a funnel of air that 'cut into' the cloud above. The result? It formed an enormous feather - like a giant quill - in the sky in front of us - a sight of such awesome beauty just for us (I'd never seen a 'serrated edge' like that - what looked like straight lines - occuring naturally in the heavens before). And of course a feather has particular personal significance for me, so I felt particularly blessed!We talked about the possible message of such a scene - and how and why the feather formed (as I've said before my friend is currently working as a research scientist-mathematician at Trieste University and is interested, among other things, in the way energy moves). One thing was for sure - that it was a sight of such beauty and majesty that we both felt a sense of awe.But it was time for my friend to return to his laboratory and for the damsel in distress to be deposited safely on dry land, so we ceased our pondering and dodged the gathering raindrops back to the car, taking the coast road back into Trieste and into the thunder and lightning of yet another storm.For more on the current unusual weather, not only in Europe but across the globe, see this piece from the Openhand Foundation, which I came across just as I was about to publish this post.