Craig Wilson

Blasted Transformer

What can be said about the surrealist qualities of the weather? How does the weather continually present the unexpected and surprise? What happens to our habitual routines when the weather poses obstacles? The following article reflects on these questions by looking at a few of the numerous weather-related events that have moved me in some way.

I like to walk the streets after heavy rains. In certain areas, yard mulch, pine needles and debris are blown into the street and rearranged by the wind and rain. Running water creates ephemeral landscaping in driveways, streets and alleys: patterns are cut into the gravel, small beaches of mud and sticks wash up against grates. Objects are displaced; trash cans are knocked over and blown across the neighborhood, random things are caught and discovered in the wind.

Once during a storm, lightning struck a transformer. I heard a low humming noise and looked out just in time to see a yellow and blue flame on the horizon. Many houses lost power. The next day I looked for the blown transformer with no luck; it had already been replaced. It would be wonderful to have debris from such an intense meteorological event. It reminds me of the tree struck by lightning that so moved the secret society within the College of Sociology. It could also after a fashion reflect the Tower and the Hanged Man tarot cards.

Regarding the sun which casts shadows and conquers your eyes. It will make you break out in little rivers. Add a magnifying glass and you’ve got a laser.

Thunder: It will rattle your bones and shake your stomach. It doesn’t care what you were doing. We are a captive audience to thunder. Bombs bursting in the upper atmosphere.

Winter storms. It can be interesting to see what gets frozen. I filled a rubber glove with water and hung it outside. With the glove peeled away, all that remained was a transparent frozen hand. It was fun to place this hand by the gas station payphone. In the winter, walking is perilous–you can suddenly fall down and have a very bad day. Traffic may slow; people traverse the streets with winter boots and ski-poles. Everything looks so different buried under six inches of snow. Snow creatures and snow forts appear. Where could it be fun to sled? You can write and draw on the snow and ice and leave it to melt or get buried in more snow. Everything eventually melts into puddles.

More on the rain. What feelings arise when rain hits the roof? What can be done with rain paintings? Rains cause mud which insists on getting everywhere, but you can also paint with it and paint yourself with it. Once when I was a child, there was a heavy rain falling at a neighbor’s house, but not at ours. We were just outside the storm. Neighborhood kids came up the hill to play and watch the rain. A few of us ran into the rainstorm and got soaked, then raced back out again to dry in the sun. I can think of only one other time that I found myself on the edge of a storm in that way.

What of a foggy night? It’s eerie to not be able to see more than a few feet in front of you. Driving through fog is downright frightening. If you’re on foot, you’ve no idea what might be happening just a few feet away. Instead, you strain to hear what’s going on because your flashlight can’t break through. From up high you can get a better view of a city sprawling, vanishing, into the distance. Buildings become amorphous; even the brightest lights are muted and look more like something from a science fiction scene. The night fog is always a cover for monsters. I find it exhilarating to walk through the night fog just as I find it exciting to walk during a power outage when there’s no visible moon.

The weather reminds us that life is not static, that the world never sits still. It brings us all sorts of surprises. You cannot step into the same storm twice.

Rare Earth Magnet

The number 8 is a rare earth magnet, a new kind of star.

Inside the number is a village that never moves. It’s three centuries old and made from peeling paint.

37 pounds of ancient concrete like a magpie cake haunts its gizzard stuffing.

Its green radiation is violently pouring from wheat grass, sure to cause earthquakes inside the pool.

It’s a spiral ramp at a shoe factory inside your dresser, in those stumbling plastic melt shoes whose curbs endlessly bring birds racing from plaid mega-huts.

The number 8 is made from burned out fireworks.

Its aspect ratio quantifies every bike tire, every micro-surface of intelligible definitions.

The letter 8 haunts houses. It has too many names these days.