Rumbles

Don Henne
2 min readDec 17, 2020

It was sometime in June, I think. The early morning started off quiet, but now the whip-poor-will’s punctuate the silence. I hear faint rumbles of thunder, too. Whip-poor-wills and thunder: point-counterpoint. Poppa stirs in his bed and rumbles a fart. Soon he will be up. The coffee needs to be made. This is his solitary time of the day: time to drink coffee, time to smoke. Rothmans cigarettes I think they were called. The ashtray was a miniature Goodyear tire with a glass hubcap in which the ashes and butts accumulated. Back then, smoking wasn’t a big deal. It seemed everyone had a cigarette attached to their fingertips. Poppa had been smoking most of his life, and he had permanent dark-brown tar and nicotine stains on his smoking fingers, and a constellation of little pinhole burns on his polyester shirt. Another rumble of thunder that sounds a little closer now. The windows rattled a bit this time. The jack pine trees are still, and the whip-poor-wills still sing. The lake is calm. A few fishing boats are drifting about. And Poppa still farts, and smokes, and drinks coffee. It’s only five AM. The rest of the cabin family are still asleep and will remain so until eight or so. Sometime in between, Nanny will awaken and get started on cooking the pancakes. She always made pancakes from scratch. They tasted best slathered with that sweet, clear, corn syrup. Poppa takes another drag from his Rothmans and blows the smoke forcefully into the air, like he was blowing out a thousand birthday candles at once. Another rumble of thunder registers in my ears. Barely audible this time, but thunder, nonetheless. The sky begins to show hints of the morning sun now. The morning twilight lasts forever during the northern summer. Across the lake the horizon is darkening. A storm is moving in but isn’t a threat for the moment. The contrast between the rising sunlight to the east and the darkening, rumbling, sky to the west is increasing. I can’t wait for those pancakes. My stomach is rumbling, too.

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