Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Supermoon is Made of Rain

Last Saturday, the supermoon would rise about 10 minutes before the sun went down. Lately folks have been calling the full moon at perigee the supermoon, because it is at its closest approach to Earth.  But really, it looks just like any other full moon.  My ephemeris (TPE) told me that from the causeway, the moon would rise near the lighthouse, so out I went.  I chose a location I’ve chosen before.  When I arrived, well before moonrise, there were great clouds on the horizon, thunderstorms out over the Gulf.  I expected not to be able to see the moon through the clouds, but one never knows; and clouds and storms often make for dramatic photographs.  I went ahead undaunted.  As I walked along the low-tide beach at the base of the seawall, I had to duck under the lines of folks who were fishing from up on the seawall. I set up my tripod on the little sandbar under the bridge. I could see the pillars of rain under the distant clouds. The sun over my shoulder still brightly lit the buildings on Fort Myers Beach, three or four miles across San Carlos Bay. There was a big storm out there, moving our way. The rain slowly marched across the land and the water. Distant lightning was followed a few seconds later by the rumble of thunder. Fishermen began collecting their gear and migrating back to where their cars and trucks were parked, back on the causeway. Now the buildings on the beach didn't shine in sunlight and they became indistinct as they were shrouded by rain. The breeze freshened and Fort Myers Beach could no longer be seen. The rain moved across the water and approached the lighthouse headland from the Gulf. Small boats scurried for shelter, leaving their bright sunlit wakes in front of the advancing dark wall of rain. 

The wind picked up. The edge of the rain was coming close. “Looks like it’s about time to run for the car,” I said to the guy fishing from the bridge support, as I lifted my tripod and closed its legs. "We’re staying put,” he shrugged. Just then, rain spattered my face. “Looks like I am, too,” I said. I clambered up onto the concrete base of bridge support number 27. The wind was really blowing now. A couple who had been fishing from the seawall moved their folding chairs way back to the far side under the bridge. Even under the bridge, I was getting wet from the blowing rain. I took off my photo vest and tucked it under the little cubby in the center of the bridge support and collapsed the tripod and put it there too. The lighthouse had vanished in the downpour. The sun, still visible above the horizon as a dull fuzzy yellow ball, was extinguished as the mass of falling water moved toward it. The two guys fishing from the support scrambled to get their paraphernalia. They planted it in the cubby with my camera gear. The wind was becoming a gale. I sought shelter in the lee of the bridge support and sat on the concrete base with my back against the support. The two fishermen joined me, squatting. The stinging needles of rain were moving horizontally. We heard a shriek and turned to see the couple on the seawall trying to keep their chairs and stuff from blowing away. They were drenched and losing the battle of the flying chairs. We hunkered in our tiny sheltered space, still getting wet from the spray flying around the concrete corners. The wind screamed. Thoughts of tornado twisted through my head

The peak of the storm passed and the wind eased a bit down from it's heart-thumping chaos. I tried to check the radar image on my iPhone to see if I could figure out how much longer we'd be trapped. The younger of the two anglers pulled out his phone too. He showed me a picture he had taken of the storm as it approached. “What a great picture!” I exclaimed, “Better than anything I got.” We got to talking. There's camaraderie among refugees. The younger, Jake, showed me on his phone some of his drawings and paintings. He's really good. His older brother, Chris, is visiting from Kansas and plays in a band called Slow Burn. We passed the time as the storm calmed. The crazy wind regained its sanity and the rain began falling downwards again instead of sideways and eventually it stopped. It had just been a scattered thunder shower, as the TV weathermen call them. “Oh no!”, Jake cried. "Everything's wet.” Our gear was soaked, sitting in half an inch of water. My vest is water resistant, so most everything was okay, and the cigarettes Jake had stowed in his shoe were dry, so no harm done. We could still see rainstorms off in the distance in the deepening dusk. I gathered up my stuff to go to the car. Jake and Chris stayed. Chris hoped to catch a shark, a bucket list thing. I wished them luck.
I never did see the supermoon. When I got home, the streets were dry. It hadn't rained at all.

© 2013 Buck Ward                        The Photographist                    

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