It was the month of March in California. Usually this embarked the beginning of spring and the end of those rainy winter spells. I decided to go for a run one sunny afternoon on a weekday at the Stanford Dish which was just 1.7 miles from my campus housing. It was a beautiful trail with monstrous inclines that could humble even an Olympic champion.
Runners, joggers and walkers frequently haunted this trail as they were treated to spectacular views of the Bay from the top. At one point the huge circular dish was placed where people often stopped for photo opportunities. The trail coiled up like a serpent’s tail and was adorned by tufts of grass on either side. Shrubs and trees spread across the bountiful acres. Mustard plants were swaying in the gentle breeze. Happy to be treated to such glorious weather, I decided to run the entire loop which was around 3.7 miles.
At the 2nd mile, I noticed that the sun had disappeared behind the clouds. Suddenly the weather changed as though someone had turned on a switch. Dark clouds loomed above and the entire ambience of the dish had turned eerie. I couldn’t spot any joggers or walkers ahead. Panic began to set in my head and I increased my running pace hoping to get out of the trail quickly. I heard a mild sound of thunder. My hands and legs froze as beads of perspiration began to form on my forehead. I felt light drops of water on my bare hands and legs. I looked up in dismay to see that the heavens had opened up and a huge storm was approaching. “Oh no! This can’t be happening.” I thought.
Considering how hot it had been earlier, I was just dressed in a pair of shorts and a T-shirt and hadn’t bothered carrying a jacket. I wish I had now, especially since I began to shiver. The rains came lashing down in a fast and furious manner. The wind howled and blew with all its might. I continued running as fast as I could but the chill got the better of me. My teeth began to chatter. How I longed for a warm blanket and a cup of hot chocolate. I wish I hadn’t decided to venture out.
As the saying goes when it rains, it pours. The situation couldn’t have turned worse. Sleets of ice began to fall down. Hail! I noticed. My legs couldn’t carry me any further as they turned numb in the cold. It appeared as though the heavens decided to turn on the air conditioning in full blast. My phone and bike keys were tucked away in a pouch that was tied around my waist. Thankfully it was water proof which meant that my mobile phone was safe. I felt the force of the rain and the water was gushing down the slopes. I looked around helplessly for some place where I could seek refuge from nature’s fury.
I spotted a sturdy tree with broad trunks and rushed towards it. At that moment, I could hear the roar of thunder. I trembled as it sounded like a beast roaring in laughter that was filled with mockery and malice. Unable to take the cold any longer, I burst into tears and flung my arms around the tree for warmth.
I clung on to the trunk as long as I could, listening to the wind howl and the clouds rumble. For some strange reason, I felt protected by this sturdy tree. I could feel its branches patting me just like a grandmother comforting a little girl in fright and giving those bullies a sound scolding. The big tree withstood the unrelenting fury of nature in a confident manner, half challenging the storm to knock it down. The leaves made a rustling sound. Hush my dear, you are safe with me, they seemed to say.
After what seemed like eternity, the rains stopped. The skies began to clear, allowing the foam of clouds to disappear gradually. The sun peeped out sheepishly, half embarrassed to be overpowered by the rain. I was still wet but began to feel better on seeing the sun’s rays. I finally let go of the tree trunk and began to get up. My legs didn’t feel that numb anymore. I decided to just walk the rest of the trail up to the exit and bike my way back home. I gave one parting look of gratitude to the tree. Raindrops trickled from the leaves making it quite a pretty sight. It almost felt like the tree was twinkling back at me.
While finding my way to the exit, a strange thought crossed my mind. While one form of nature was lashing out its fury, another form of nature at the same time was shielding me from its wrath. Strange are the ways of nature which can perish life or nurture. I trembled wondering what would have happened if I hadn’t found refuge under that tree….