Wild July - Singapore 2005
Updated: Jan 28
Such a beautiful morning. Still. Barely a breath of wind. So clear. The volcano island is standing proud on the eastern horizon. Bintan is waving happily at me. No hint of haze. Intense sunlight. Bouncing golden beams between the sea and a band of textbook fluffy white clouds that are marching in a line, east west, across the strait. All the ships, little junks to huge container ships, are all lined up neatly. Sterns east, bows west. Such apparent neatness.
The clouds are changing. Moody grey tinges to their bottom edges. To the east a magnificent stark white cu-nim is pumping atmospheric iron and flexing its muscles high into the sky. “Look at me. I’m here. In all my glory,” it’s seeming to say.
The sky is a battleground for clouds this morning - a looming clash of titans - the sea flattened under the weight of their might. Smooth bottoms, towering tops. Two teams. One marching in from the east, the other from the west. As if in honour, the surrounding air is sitting in quiet expectancy. Waiting for giants to meet head on. For the battle to commence…
Half an hour later…
They came. They met. They melded. They magnified. And now we sit at the foot of their threatening majesty, enclosed in air thick with humidity, waiting for them to unleash their fury.
A short while later…
They have not let us down. The sea has turned steel-green, white horses galloping at speed across its surface; their wild manes leaving spray in their wake as they try to escape from the black wall of water approaching from the west, moving down the strait. Obscuring from view every boat, every ship. Unleashing its energy on all in its path. Cleansing. Clearing. Enlivening. The most extraordinary synchronicity.
I am going outside to immerse the very essence of me in the rain.
As I look out the window this morning the world is shrouded in grey of all hues. Lowering sky. Oppressive. Intense humidity. Strangely, no movement in the air. Across the strait two bands of rain are moving steadily east. The first like a circular column. The second, a wall that stretches west as far as the eye can see. Grey green sea, the colour of a pigeon's breast. No white horses. Flattened into submission by pressure from above. The only sounds, the echo of a fog horn as its ship disappears into the morass consuming it, the eerie call of a golden oriole, the crashing of the rain out to sea. No thunder. No lightening. Incredibly peaceful. Feel it with me.
Beautiful swim this morning. Gliding through unbroken water. Its night-cooled hands caressing my body, unhindered sun baking my shoulders. A myriad of rainbows reflecting in ripples on the bottom of the pool and the surface of my consciousness. Slipping. Sliding. Slicing. From light into shadow, shadow into light. Until the sun rises high in the sky. Until only the silhouette of a flickering palm casts its mark in the blueness beneath. Muscles pumping. Heart beating. Blood charging. Lightening in my veins.
An hour later…
The clouds have arrived, obscuring the sun. The sea on the horizon is bruised purple, blending seamlessly into a reflective mercury grey on the foreshore. Every detail of the ships in the strait picked clear against a backdrop of advancing rain.
It’s calm beyond my window. At the moment. But there is a whisper of mischief in the wind.
Bright white lightening streaks seawards in the distance. A faint rumble of thunder. Day darkness falling. White horses galloping now, their manes shining luminous in the storm-driven light. Methinks the wind is carrying menace not mischief today.
In minutes, thunder ceaselessly rolling around the sky. Wind howling, screeching. Doors slam. Lightening, pink, white, flashing along the clouds. Louder and louder, the wind screams. Omnipotent power. I sit and watch and feel in awe.
The lightning’s stopped. The world beyond my window has changed into a grey wall of solid water driven eastwards by the battering wind. Thunder booming, almost without end. Crashing overhead now. Lightening returns, dancing seamlessly with the thunder above & the wind around. A symphony of nature sound. Totally & utterly magnificent.
The rain’s stopping, but still the wind rages. Through the chaos a momentary shaft of sunlight hits the sea. Emerald on grey. Fleeting. Gone now.
Lightening strike. Thunder erupts. Madness. In its wake, ephemeral stillness. A ship’s horn calling in distress . The wind returns, unleashing its fury once more. Sampans tossing this way and that, straining at their anchor chains.
And still I sit. Expectant. Unable to move. Bound by a wind-woven spell.
Rain has just swept in. Riding on a wind of fury from the south west. Hitting the window so hard it sounds like hail. The ships have disappeared. Water is lashing in through the open windows in the rest of the flat. Doors slamming. Hard to close because of the force of the wind blowing against them. Curtains flying. Textiles blown off the walls. Stems broken off the large plants in the living room. Even through the now-closed window here in my study I can hear the howling of the wind.
Thunder’s started booming around the heavens. I have a meeting in town in an hour. No point going out in this. All the taxi drivers will be holed up drinking coffee or sleeping, sheltering from the rampant, shrieking maelstrom outside.
A space of gentle tranquility. The sea is like glass, a mirror for the sky above. At first glance a singularly grey sky, but look closer and it is a tapestry of blue and white and grey. Multi-dimensional. Flat yet lumpy, wispy and feathery.
The strong wind that has been blowing all day has died down. The leaves on the trees at the back of the beach are resting after hours of strenuously holding on. Many sampans and a fishing flotilla are moored out in the strait this evening. There's a parrot screeching like a rusty door hinge. Bintan in the distance shrouded in dusky haze.
It's a beautiful morning. Gentle and soft. Clear, pale blue sky blending seamlessly with the sea on the horizon. No sign of Bintan, cloaked as it is in lavender pink haze. Sea like mirrored glass. Just the hint of a ripple breaking the surface. A perfect diving day.
Wonderful, wild, wicked, extreme weather.
Image © TJF Photographics 2005 All rights reserved