There was a dust storm somewhere last night. By the time I left for work there was a flat look to the daylight and an odd colourless haze across any line of sight that went more than a few kilometres. By midmorning the haze had thickened so that Black Mountain was barely visible from Civic and there was a noticeable film over any building more than a block or so away. The sky to the south was the colour of antique paper or the once-white wall of a heavy smoker’s house: by that stage it was obviously dirt hanging up there in the sky, not fog or cloud, and it was so visible that it was actually surprising to walk outside and feel clear air in my mouth and nose. I’d been bracing myself to be inhaling grit. It diffused the sunlight down to a strangely-coloured, suffusing glare so that nothing cast any shadow and the thick grass on the oval where I went for lunchtime exercise was an almost indecently rich green.
It must have rained somewhere, too, because I saw a lot of cars with mud crusted across their roofs where rain must have fallen out of the dust cloud onto them. We had that in Queanbeyan some years ago. I still think of it as the Filthstorm. The rain fell as a grimy reddish slurry that was still changing the colour of the light coming through my windows months after the fact (I live high up, the kitchen and living room windows aren’t really accessible for cleaning). The rain kicked in in the middle of town as I was walking to the car but I got lucky on two fronts: it was clean rain, for the most part, not splattering mud-rain, and it only really cranked up after I was inside and driving.
The night’s more or less quiet as I type this. There’s a little speckling of rain on the roof every so often, and the thunder seems to have dozed off and only faintly rumbles once in a while as it turns over in its sleep. But for a couple of hours there it absolutely shaped and ruled the evening, the rain roaring on the roof and blasting in against the windows at acute angles from the wind, the lightning turning the black sky into a sudden expanse of purple-white texture on the long flashes and simply jarring the eye on the short ones, and the thunder cracking like concussion or booming hard enough to set the window-glass buzzing for a moment. I feel as spent as the storm.