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The sky darkened and then darkened more, thunder began to roll across the hills and gradually became louder and more frequent, and when flashes of light became visible I started counting off the seconds it took for the sound to arrive. Finally the rain came, a gentle shower at first, and then a deluge, and almost right away the waterfall surged with newly fallen rain. It got so dark that this exposure was 30 seconds long with an almost wide-open lens.

I know it sounds kind of silly, but a thunderstorm really is different when you're not in a house or a car, when the sky darkens and the wind comes up and thunder roars and lightning crackles, and you know that even though your odds are good, you're not altogether safe.

But the sliver of danger wasn't the main thing, I think. To me, for some reason, the darkness seemed like a portent, and as I noticed the light diminishing, the thunder became a reminder of approaching death, stalking across the hills like fate, which made me feel sad more than afraid, sad and very mortal, and even though the odds were we would be passed over this time, it was certain that death would stop for someone today, and it's certain that it will stop for me and everyone I love, and take us one by one, some day, not so very long from now.

So it was good to have the camera things to do, set up, compose, focus, level, check exposure, click the shutter, repeat. And it was good to be able to talk quietly to my dog Junie, the two of us there together under the massive bluff shelter, chilly but dry, watching the elements prove again how small a human and a dog are.