Where I live, in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, and work, in the foothills of North Carolina, we’ve had quite a summer so far.
The tiny little town where my family and I call home has sweltered through record-breaking temperatures – never in recorded history of the town had a high temp in June reached 90 degrees until this year, when we topped out at 102 – and in recent days we’ve been pounded by storms.
As I write this, it’s raining hard outside, and the rumble of what I call gentle thunder is echoing across the ridges and hollows. I call this gentle thunder because lately we’ve experienced a fair bit of ground-shaking claps of thunder, with lightning filling the sky, hailstones as large as marbles pelting the ground. On one recent morning I watched as wind literally ripped large trees apart, pulled shutters and shingles from homes, and sent anything that wasn’t locked down flying across the land.
In the midst of that storm, I was reminded of one of my favorite Stephen King stories, THE MIST. The work was made into a movie a few years back, and I’m happy to say I have yet to see it. This is one of those stories that played out in my mind in full living color (despite Mr. King’s insistence in his notes that this was the sort of story best seen in black and white, at the drive-in, with your girl (or guy) snuggled up against you). I don’t want to see some director’s rendition; I have my own images from the novella, thank you very much.
Funny, how random happenstances will bring to memory songs or events or, in my case, novels and stories I’ve read. Sunday, when I was watching the power of that storm, I suddenly wanted to dig out my copy of King’s short story collection, SKELETON CREW, and read THE MIST. Unfortunately, it wasn’t on any of my bookshelves, which means it’s packed up in a box somewhere.
Later in the day we drove out and saw some of the damage (professional curiosity, of course, being that I’m a journalist). Trees were down, utility poles had been snapped, and some roads were even blocked. We stopped at a hardware store to pick up a window air conditioning unit, and saw people dejectedly walking from the store after learning there were no generators within 150 miles to be had (widespread and long-term power outages left many in the dark for a week). We stopped at a grocery store which had no power, its workers dealing with frustrated customers who didn’t seem to understand why they couldn’t go ahead and buy milk and other items from cold storage.
And my thoughts drifted again to my first reading of THE MIST so long ago, when I was very young and the world was still full of mystery and promise.
Does that ever happen to you? Do you find yourself drawn to something you’ve read years ago? Do you read it again when that happens? Or do you simply spend a few moments fondly recalling the work, and then move on?
Share your memories, your answers, or anything else you’d like to say in the comments section here – I’d love to read what you have to say.
As for me, I may very well have to go digging through my boxes. See, the gentle thunder has grown now, the ground is shaking, lightning streaks fill the air, and I can think of no better time to read such a tale as THE MIST.
See ya ‘round.