“Clouds come floating into my life,
no longer to carry rain or usher storm,
but to add colour to my sunset sky.”
-Rabindranath Tagore 1861 – 1941
Photo: Rowena Curtin: Sunset Pittwater
Photo: Rowena Curtin: Sunset Pittwater
Utterly beautiful, I was quite mesmerized by these fluffy clouds scudding above the Hawkesbury River on Sydney’s Northern fringe.
A fabulous way to spend Fathers’ Day 2016.
Yesterday, the dogs and I got caught out in an exceptionally heavy rainstorm, despite my husband’s dire warnings.
I was considering whether to take the kayak out when Geoff called to warn me about a severe rain storm.He’d just seen it pass through at work and warned that it was bad… bad bad….dumping absolutely buckets and buckets of rain. Apparently, the storm was at Brooklyn only about 10 minutes away as the crow flies, near the Hawkesbury River Bridge, just North of Sydney.
My husband knows all these things about storms not because of his psychic abilities or because he’s some kind of meteorologist. Rather, he cheats. He looks up the Bureau of Meteorology’s website at http://www.bom.gov.au where they show pretty pictures of the rain radar out at Sydney airport.
However, with ten minutes up my sleeve, I thought I had just enough time to take the dogs for a walk on the mudflats out the front of the house before the rain set. We’re on holidays at Palm Beach and the dogs are rather cooped up and needed to get out…as did I!
Well,as you can surmise, I didn’t look up the “bom site” or at least I didn’t this time.
Sure, when I looked South, there were a few menacing-looking, dark clouds hanging low and gloomily, very close by along with the occasional rumble but when I looked North across to Lion Island, the dark clouds were still fairly high up and rain didn’t seem that imminent.
There seemed to be just enough time to make a run for it with the dogs and carpe diem seize the day!
Famous last words! Yet, like so many things, it felt like a good idea at the time.
We set off. The tide had only just started going out and there was only a somewhat narrow “crust” of sand on the water’s edge to walk along. This route was broken up by a number of boat jetties. Most of these are fairly dilapidated with more missing planks and gaps than a seven year old who is missing their front teeth and has a number of wobblies as well. I found the state of the jetties along millionaire’s row rather surprising. Not only are many falling apart but they’re caked in slippery green moss and you could easily break your neck trying to step over them. Being an environmental sort, I was pleased to see the number of oysters growing along the pillars, forming fairly complete exoskeletons. However, that was until I was trying to squeeze through under one particular jetty and virtually had to hold my breath as I narrowly avoided being cut, sliced and diced by oysters on all fronts. It was a rather tight fit and perhaps I should’ve turned back but I must have heard the call of the wild. I had to keep going.
In what was a fairly dangerous move, I’d taken my camera along with me. If you’re not into photography or use the likes of your iPhone to take photos, perhaps you won’t appreciate the risk involved. You see when you are a photographer at heart, as you’re staring through the lens, you are even more focused than the lens in your camera. The rest of the world naturally blurs, fading right out of focus. This means that you can miss things which aren’t quite in your very limited orbit. In my case included some little, and even not so little, black rain clouds…and just a couple of lightening bolts!!
Indeed, for the true photographer, a storm quickly translates into a “photo opportunity” long before there’s any perception of danger at all. Photographers, especially when they’re staring fixated through the lens, will do anything to get the shot and are more than likely completely oblivious to any kind of danger or seriously impending doom until it’s too late…usually way, way too late!!
Fortunately, something or somebody often comes to our rescue. Australia’s legendary photographer Ken Duncan tells a fabulous story behind his iconic photo: The Power of One where he captures an African elephant in the Zambezi River. Just moments after he’d taken the shot, the elephant charged. Fortunately, his quick thinking guide saved his life but it was a sobering reminder. Apparently, the elephant had appeared further away through the lens. http://www.kenduncan.com/gallery/overseas/the-power-of-one-africa-zwx092-detail
Along with my own distractions, the dogs were having a ball. Of course, Bilbo our big Border Collie, doesn’t like getting his paws wet and was trotting along on dry sand while Lady was running through the water or just running, running, running. She was tearing around like a bat out of hell…or a dog who’d just been released from prison. Lady always has so much fun. I wanted to let the dogs have a good run, not knowing how long we’d be cooped up inside with the rain.
I hadn’t walked far and was feeling rather chuffed squeezing in quite a walk before the rain set in. But then I felt a couple of large raindrops plop onto my head and as we turned around heading for home, the sky suddenly opened up and dumped and kept dumping and dumping. I sped up as fast as I could but the rain was moving in fast and furious and we were absolutely drenched. I had my camera around my neck but just didn’t think I should stop to put it away and I also have to admit that I even took a few photos as we went. The wind had whipped up and was roughing up the sea. There were flashes of lightening and louder, very unmistakable claps of thunder. It was getting a little bit out of hand but while there was some possibility that I might have been struck by lightening, I had somehow been transmogrified by the storm. Despite the wind and rain, the air was so incredibly fresh and invigorating and I felt so alive. It was quite mesmerising.
The kids weren’t so thrilled when we arrived home. Instead, I was in trouble. They had actually managed to tear themselves away from the X-Box and were watching me from the balcony with lightening flashing all around me. They were worried that I was going to get struck down. I don’t know whether I feel like I’ve become invincible after surviving all my other trials and tribulations or whether I just worry about more mundane things but I had no fear at the time. I was swept away in all the atmospheric moodiness of the storm. Even though the dogs and I were soaking wet, it was really quite exhilerating!!
As much as Bilbo seems to love standing out in the rain, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him quite so wet, The rain was falling off him in flowing sheets…almost Niagara Falls. Lady, who isn’t quite as woolly, fared better.
Turns out that the rain storm was fast and furious. Palm Beach recorded 8.4 mm for the day and Terrey Hills, not that far away, recorded 6.4 mm in only ten minutes.
It turns out the kids’ concerns about us being out in the storm weren’t as crazy as I’d thought. Across the Sydney Basin during the time of the storms, 275 lightning strikes were recorded within a 30 kilometre radius of Baulkham Hills in Sydney’s North west. Looks like I might have just used up another one of my gazillion nine lives.
Of course, Geoff said I told you so but I did get some great photos and wrote a poem to tell the tale. That’s not just poetic justice but photographic justice as well!
I would love to hear about any close calls you might have had to get the shot!
Read about the storm and check out more photos here: http://www.9news.com.au/national/2014/09/25/12/11/severe-thunderstorms-set-to-hit-sydney