R.S. Williams

All I want is to get the words right.

Tag: Weather (page 1 of 2)

Hillside Monday: 1/14/19

Dramatic (high contrast) black-and-white photo of a dark night sky, with a thick, foggy halo of light shining from behind the jagged black branches of a small tree. In the background, we see the ghostly exterior corner of a small clapboard house and the utility pole next to it.

“For Wes, Part 20”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2018

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Friday Photo: 1/4/19

A sky filled with roiling dark gray clouds looms above a large parking area for a trucking company. In the background and at the left foreground, the dozen or so 18 wheelers (each of which is 13 feet high) and the truck garage (which stands about 30 feet high) resemble children's toys about to be swept away by the massive, looming storm behind them.

“Storm Clouds with Truck Yard”
Marietta, Georgia (2018)

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Hillside Monday: 11/26/18

“Back Yard with Window Screen and Hurricane Irma”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2017

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Friday Photo: 11/16/18

I found that I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way—things I had no words for.
— Georgia O’Keeffe

“For Wes, Part 11”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2017

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Hillside Monday: 10/15/18

“Ahead of the Storm, Jefferson Street”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2015

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Hillside Monday: 10/1/18

“Amethyst Clouds”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2018

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Wednesday Photo: 9/26/18

“Rainy Day View, Corner Booth”
Waffle House #646
LaGrange, Georgia – 2018

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Hillside Monday: 9/17/18

“Roof and Sky, Two Days Before Disaster”
LaGrange, Georgia – 26 June 2018
In memory of John McNamara (1961-2018)

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Friday Photo: 9/14/18

“Sunset, Yellow Jacket Creek”
Troup County, Georgia – 2014

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Wednesday Photo: 9/5/18

“Sunset on the Chattahoochee”
Franklin, Georgia – 2017

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Hillside Monday: 8/6/18

“Any Porch In a Storm”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2015

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Hillside Monday: 7/9/18

“Sepia Storm Clouds”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2018

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Hillside Monday: 6/25/18

“Sky on Fire, Hillside”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2016

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Hillside Monday: 6/4/18

“Sunset in Blue and Flame”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2016

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Hillside Monday: 4/23/18

“Another Storm in Hillside”
LaGrange, Georgia – 10 April 2015

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Driving Home from Jonesboro, Arkansas

There are few experiences more peaceful, or more satisfying, than driving 500 miles home past rail yards and ports and farmland.

Northeastern Arkansas feels a lot like southern Georgia. It’s flat and swampy, yet fertile. In the fields on both sides of most every highway, massive sprinkler systems on wheels sleep, biding their time before the summer drought. Unlike southern Georgia, though, I saw no Arkansas cattle egrets carpeting either moos or soybean fields. Nor did I swat at gnats every other breath, like I never got used to doing when I was a kid visiting my aunt in Sylvester or Ashburn or Tifton.

There’s a spare, half-wild, desperate natural beauty there. It’s same kind of beauty that an artist friend once said makes southern Georgia “the most beautiful, desolate, forsaken place on earth—praise God.”

Watching the storm as I drove was frightening and sublime. The sky turned an unnerving shade of pinkish-green. Outside Memphis, I saw five bolts of lightning hit the ground at once. A little further up the road, I drove across both Hell Creek and the Tallahatchie Bridge. No Billy Joe McAllister, though.

Between Tyronza (pop. 762) and Jonesboro, the shoulder of the access road along Interstate 555 was on fire: three triangular-shaped patches of grass ablaze at dusk. Maybe it was the lightning from the storm. Maybe it was an alien spacecraft landing mishap. In this wide, semi-sandy, rural dream world, anything seems possible.

West of Marked Tree, Arkansas, railroad tracks parallel US Highway 63. I raced a long, long BNSF, the kind that requires four big orange locomotive engines, into town. Outrunning a train in a Honda Civic feels wrong.

The soil in Arkansas is unlike any I’ve seen. Sandy tan on top, with newly plowed furrows of deep coffee brown. Near Lepanto, a huge John Deere cut S-shaped disc rows into a fallow field every 100 feet. In other fields, brilliant yellow-flowering cover crops stretched for hundreds of acres on either side of the highway.

Outside Maumelle, a large squirrel darted across a rain-beaten furrowed sandy field. “What are you doing? Trying to get picked up by a hawk?” I said to the silence in the car. Three hundred feet across the same field, a Rottweiler mix trotted along with a limp brown broken creature in its mouth. The little brown tail flopped to the beat of the dog’s proud steps.

From Jonesboro to the Mississippi River, red-winged blackbirds swooped from fence post to fence post. Little red-and-yellow epaulets on little daredevil black birds—flash-flash-flash, swoop-swoop-swoop, waving me home-home-home.

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

 

Hillside Monday: 3/19/18

If you don’t write the book you have to write, everything breaks.
— A.M. Homes

“For Wes, Part 17”
LaGrange, Georgia – 29 May 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 3/7/18

“Sadness, Part 1”
LaGrange, Georgia – 4 April 2014

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Tonight, I dream of Nashville, where a low pressure system wraps the city in a thick wintry blanket. How beautiful it would be to see the oxbows of the Little Harpeth, the girders of the Shelby Street Bridge, and the ear-tufts of the Bat Building swept by wind—swaddled in snow, glazed in sleet and freezing rain.

Tonight, I long to wake to the great roaring silence of snow. Through the perforated Bakelite cube at my bedside, a half-human, half-computer voice consoles me with a NOAA lullaby. “Currently in Nashville: snow, 28 degrees. A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect. Elsewhere in Tennessee…”

Tonight, indeed, my mind is elsewhere—in Tennessee. I imagine the crisis-comfort of winter weather: the deafening hush of heavy, wet snowflakes, the flik-flik-flik of ice on plant and ground, the muffled grrrrddddtttt of tires against slush in the parking lot of a tiny apartment on White Bridge Road. Just beyond my window, the splash of cold black-white-clear lacquer soothes me to sleep, to work, to live.

Tonight, in west central Georgia, I stock up on bread, milk, and bottled water. I surrender my hopes. I play along at home.

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Friday Photo: 12/22/17

“Oncoming Storm with Shadows, in Blue”
LaGrange, Georgia – 22 July 2015

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Hillside Monday: 11/20/17

“Back Yard with Window Screen and Hurricane Irma”
LaGrange, Georgia – 11 September 2017

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Friday Photo: 11/10/17

I found that I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way—things I had no words for.
— Georgia O’Keeffe

“For Wes, Part 11”
LaGrange, Georgia – 5 September 2017

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Hillside Monday: 11/6/17

“Storm in Hillside, Late July”
LaGrange, Georgia – 21 July 2015

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Hillside Monday: 10/2/17

“Sunset, Late August”
LaGrange, Georgia – 19 August 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 9/27/17

“Black Patent Parking Lot”
Newnan, Georgia – 22 June 2017

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Hillside Monday: 9/25/17

“Silk Tree at the Edge of the Storm”
LaGrange, Georgia – 15 August 2017

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Hillside Monday: 9/18/17

Art is the attention we pay to the wholeness of the world.
— Guy Davenport 

“For Wes, Part 8”
LaGrange, Georgia – 8 August 2017

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Friday Photo: 8/11/17

“Sunset on the Chattahoochee”
Franklin, Georgia – 1 July 2017

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Hillside Monday: 6/12/17

“Tornado Sky #1”
LaGrange, Georgia – 23 November 2014

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Hillside Monday: 6/5/17

“Metal Roof and Storm”
LaGrange, Georgia – 23 November 2014

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Wednesday Photo: 5/31/17

“Water Oak Leaves with Rain and Window”
LaGrange, Georgia – 1 May 2017

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Hillside Monday: 3/20/17

“Another Storm in Hillside”
LaGrange, Georgia – 10 April 2015

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Hillside Monday: 1/30/17

“Tornado Sky #1”
LaGrange, Georgia – 23 November 2014

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Hillside Monday: 1/23/17

“Tin Roof, Winter Storm”
LaGrange, Georgia – 7 January 2017

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Hillside Monday: 12/26/16

PinkPiedmontAzaleaWithRain_COPY_2015-04-10_12.59.07

“Pink Piedmont Azalea, with Rain”

LaGrange, Georgia – 10 April 2015

#HillsideMonday

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One Small Voice against the Storm

The other night, I dreamed I was at a friend’s house during a terrible thunderstorm, the kind of storm that makes people think Armageddon really has arrived. The winds shook the spring-green, baby-leafed trees like eighty-foot-tall pompoms. Parts of people’s houses flew by: downspouts, shingles, screen doors. I could see even darker, nearly-black clouds rolling in from the west.

The green of the trees lit up neon-like against the angry dark gray clouds. Those clouds billowed slow and steady across the fields opposite my friend’s house—embryonic tornadoes, rolling close to the ground. They moved so slowly that at first I thought I could outrun them on foot. But they moved in such a stop-motion, unpredictable way that I knew I’d better not even try. In the vacant lot across the road, half a dozen newborn funnel clouds stood up and lumbered toward us.

The sensible thing to do would have been to run back indoors and hide in the bathtub, or in the crawl space. But for whatever reason, we decided to drive my car into town and take shelter on the university campus. In the basement of one of the huge concrete classroom buildings, we figured, we’d be safe.

As we drove down the narrow country road, the storm grew even stronger. Entire roofs and porches now flew over the car, like dollhouse parts at the mercy of a giant commercial vacuum. We saw people cling to telephone poles and mailbox posts, then lose their grip and disappear into the dark, hungry tornado mouth. The trees whipped in every direction. In the all-powerful wind and rain, proud hickories and towering oaks became as pliable as flimsy ornamental grasses.

When an ancient tulip poplar crashed across both lanes of the road, I stopped the car. We were about to get out and head for the ditch—another last-resort place to hide from a tornado—when we felt the car’s rear end lift, fall, and lift again.

Then the tornado was upon us.

It yawned wide, and again picked up the car by the rear axle. We were now suspended in the air, far above the ground. For a moment, I thought my hands had grown into the steering wheel. I couldn’t even scream. But then the car began to shudder. Through my terror, my words returned.

“This is it?” I shouted. “This is how it’s supposed to end?” I grabbed my friend and held her against me, shielding her face from the chaos swirling just beyond the windshield.

The tornado shrieked louder, and bobbled the car a little. It was trying to scare me, trying to shut me up. I held my friend even tighter, and kept shouting.

“I can’t believe this—after everything she’s been through.” The winds rocked the car again, dipping the front end and then the back. “Her grandmother, two uncles, an aunt, and her husband have all died over the last year.” Tears rolled down my cheeks. “And now you bring her this?”

The car began spinning counter-clockwise, with an occasional, ungainly dip back toward the earth. Now the tornado was just toying with us—just a bully, picking on two much smaller kids in the far corner of the playground.

My anger rose. One way or another, life or death, that storm would know forever that I had its stupid little game all figured out.

“So this is the best you could do, huh? A tornado?” The car’s rear end dipped again. This time, the roller-coaster feeling in my solar plexus did not unnerve me. “Talk about corny! You’ll have to come up with something better.”

The tornado’s mouth opened wide. It meant to swallow us whole. Soon, we would be scattered all over the west Georgia countryside. Images came to me of search parties finding our various unidentifiable body parts flung hither and yon, mixed with bits of vegetation and scraps of Honda.

Nope. This would not do.
I poured out my rage at the gigantic gray funnel. “No! NO! You cannot have her! NO!”

The towering column lurched away from us. Its monstrous roar turned to a sputter, and then a frightened half-cough. The car leaned suddenly to one side, and then gently floated back to the ground. I peered up into the swirling vortex, only to watch it turn a lighter gray, then white, and then disappear. I turned to my friend. “Are you okay?” She nodded yes.

I awoke in awe at the power of one small voice against the storm.

 

Photo: “Metal Roof and Storm” (LaGrange, Georgia – 23 November 2014)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Friday Photo: 12/16/16

smallcreekinseveredrought_copy

“Small Creek in Severe Drought”
Heard County, Georgia – 30 October 2016

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Hillside Monday: 12/12/16

irisleaveslateautumndrought_copy_11-11-2016

“Iris Leaves with Late Autumn Drought”

LaGrange, Georgia – 11 November 2016

#HillsideMonday

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Hillside Monday: 12/5/16

virginiacreeperwithsidingandlateautumndrought_copy

“Virginia Creeper with Late Autumn Drought”
#HillsideMonday
LaGrange, Georgia – 11 November 2016

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Friday Photo: 12/2/16

longdecember_copy_border_2015-12-07

“Long December”

Heard County, Georgia – 7 December 2015

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Wednesday Photo: 11/23/16

oakleafwithdroughtandacidrain_copy_2016-10-30

“Oak Leaf with Drought and Acid Rain”
Heard County, Georgia – 30 October 2016

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Hillside Monday: 11/14/16

rainydayfirstlight_copy_2016-01-21

“Rainy Day, First Light”

#HillsideMonday

LaGrange, Georgia – 21 January 2016

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Sky on Fire, Centralhatchee

skyonfirecentralhatchee_copy_2014-09-30_19-39-08

Heard County, Georgia – 30 September 2014

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Hillside Monday: 9/26/16

StormCloudsMidAugust_COPY_2016-08-13

“Storm Clouds, Mid-August”
LaGrange, Georgia – 13 August 2016

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Wednesday Photo: 8/31/16

PinkPetalsGreenMarble_COPY_2015-03-21

“Pink Petals, Green Marble”
Birmingham, Alabama – 21 March 2015

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Sunset, Yellow Jacket Creek

Sunset_YellowJacketCreek_COPY_2014-10-07-19.38

Troup County, Georgia – 7 October 2014

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A Song in May

Silver sequins pour from a charcoal velvet sky through lacy gold afternoon light. As I sprint back from the mailbox, ten thousand tiny quicksilvery splatters sprinkle across the dusty, clean-swept yard. Six miles away, across the Alabama line, thunder laughs low, clears its throat, laughs again. The air smells like wet asphalt, like kudzu, like lightning, like dreams—like home.

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Hillside Monday: 2/29/16

FoggyFoggyNight_COPY_2016-02-01_23

“Foggy, Foggy Night”
LaGrange, Georgia – 1 February 2016

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Hillside Monday: 9/14/15

PawPrintsOnSnowySteps_COPY_2014-01-29_09.52.44

“Paw Prints on Snowy Steps”
LaGrange, Georgia – 29 January 2014

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Riders on the Storm

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Loveland Pass, North American continental divide (elevation 11,990 feet)
Clear Creek/Summit counties, Colorado – 9 August 2014

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