The sky grows dark and the buzzards come home.I’ve spent the past half hour sitting in the rocking chair on my side-yard deck, waiting for a grumbling mass of black clouds marching in from the west to materialize into rain. I came outside from my study when the afternoon sunshine suddenly winked out. A transition just that abrupt…bright one moment, dark the next. A second or two later thunder rumbled in the distance. As a kid, I used to grab one of my mother’s quilts and head for the front porch whenever I thought a thunderstorm was imminent. Since our house faced west, the direction from which most thunderstorms came, I usually had a great view of any oncoming storm. On the downside, the porch, about an eight-by-ten foot affair sheltering the front door, had an overhanging roof but no sort of screening or sidewall protection. Hence the quilt, though that was good only for the most minor storms. I’d begin stormwatching in one of the chairs, or perhaps on the big three-cushion glider—which, in case you’re not familiar with the term, is a sort of couch that moves (glides) back-and-forth; a moving porch-seating alternative to a rocker or swing. Either place was fine so long as it was just wind coming in. But once the rains arrived, I soon had to stand and flatten myself against the wall of the house. Of course, it didn’t take much wind and blowing rain to make this refuge equally untenable…whereupon I was forced to retreat inside and do my storm watching from behind the screen door—or until rain began blowing through the mesh and onto Mom’s gleaming oak floor. At that point parental authority was invoked—the storm door was closed, the damp quilt confiscated, and I had to get my storm-watching thrills through a windowpane. However, neither maturity nor common sense has cured me from my love of storm-watching. Which is why I ensconced myself on the deck a while back with high hopes of seeing a bit of spring weather drama. The local weather oracles have been predicting rain for the past three days. Like too many modern diviners, though, they’re apparently unskilled in the foretelling arts—full of promise and short on delivery. It did rain last night, but only a little. Not enough to discolor the river or water the roses, although I have no doubt it was more than sufficient to encourage the grass to quickly grow several inches. For a while I had high hopes. The sky turned an ominous charcoal-gray, the hue of a day-old bruise. The wind was swirling around, carrying a breath of cool dampness. Four Canada geese came whipping in, honking loudly, feet out. The big birds made a noisy and not very graceful splashdown, then settled on the rocky bar just across from the cottage. They did seem encouragingly apprehensive about the coming storm, holding their heads high on upstretched necks, looking this way and that constantly. The thunder to the west grew much louder, until it became an almost a constant growling; a great angry beast just over the horizon and heading my way. More encouraging still. Then the buzzards came sailing home—coming in fast from all quadrants, swirling around a pass or two in the looming sky above the island, just enough to show off their aerial prowess, before quickly finding a sheltered roost in one of the big sycamores. Oh, ho, I thought. Here it comes! Confound it, no! A few drops pattered on the roof and deck planks. The wind began whipping the drops into my face and, more importantly, onto my camera. I momentarily deserted my post long enough to stow the photo gear just inside the cottage’s front door. The rain began pouring down…and then just quit. Staring out the opened door, I saw the sky’s dark lid slide away like an auto’s sunroof. Bright sunlight beamed down. The moistened grass sparkled…and doubtless invigorated, began instantly redoubling its growing efforts. I felt cheated, robbed of a deliciously anticipated pleasure. The turkey vultures appeared equally let down. I could see them sitting dejectedly in the top of the greening sycamores. They’d also been fooled by the muttering front—enough to come hustling home, giving up whatever roadkill or tasty bit of offal they’d planned for supper. And for what? Little more than a 20-second shower; probably not enough to wet their feathers. I waved at my black-robed neighbors across the stream. “We all got bamboozled this time around,” I called over to them. The quartet of geese on the rock bar honked noisily and took off, flapping hard to get airborne. Back inside, I reminded myself there would be other storms to watch. At least, I thought, my supper was still waiting in the kitchen.