You Can’t Take The Sky From Me

The weather around these parts lately has been – hmm, how to phrase this most optimistically? – less than stellar.

Let’s start with March. We had measurable rain in Portland 29 out of 31 days. Even for the notoriously soggy Pacific Northwest, that’s a lot! It was also the 5th-wettest March on record, and the latest we have ever hit 60 degrees (March 31st – the old record was March 27th). I can remember plenty of years where our temperature soared well into the 70s the last week or two of March. Not this year!

So, when I got caught in a hailstorm the likes of which I hadn’t seen in a long time last week, I shouldn’t have been surprised. It was pretty much par for the course for a Spring where the trees remain bare and leafless and snow still coats the foothills to the east. Where the heat still runs constantly and I have yet to spend a day outside without a sweatshirt. I imagine eventually, at some point, the weather will warm up…but it may be September before that happens. Anyway…back to the hail.

I was sitting in my car, affectionately known as the Markmobile (because it’s just like the Batmobile, only white instead of black…and without any cool gadgets…and is an SUV…but otherwise, the spittin’ image!), in the drive-through lane of Burgerville. Because I’m a cheap bastard I like to get things for free, I decided to grab dinner there and use the points on my Reward Card to pay for it. Burgerville had generously added $5 to my card because April is my birthday month, so a free pepper bacon cheeseburger and rosemary shoestring fries sounded mighty appealing. Right before I headed out, I was on the phone lamenting that we hadn’t had a really good hailstorm in ages, which seems both ironic and random, but earlier in the day there’d been hail in southeastern Portland, and I was feeling left out of the action. “There are some really dark clouds moving in,” I noted right before hanging up and hopping in the car. Anyway, fast-forward ten minutes, and as I’m sitting there waiting for my food, I hear a ping. Followed by several more, in rapid succession. Ping, ping, ping. Suddenly and without warning, the sky opened up, and hailstones the size of marbles began raining down. Midwesterners might smirk, but for this part of the country, them’s some mighty big hailstones, lemme tell ya. It sounded like I was inside a pan full of exploding popcorn kernels.

“Oh, my God,” the drive-through dude remarked, observing the deluge while handing me my food. “Drive safely, okay?”

Ahh, nothing like Springtime in the Pacific Northwest! This is HAIL, not snow.

“Will do,” I replied, and headed out onto a roadway that had quickly been covered in slushy ice. Thunder boomed directly overhead, lightning split the sky, and torrential hail fell for the next twenty minutes, piling up to over 1″ deep. I was driving 20 mph, couldn’t see a thing because my windows were all fogged up and the windshield wipers weren’t doing squat, and decided that the smart course of action would be to pick up my phone and call the person I’d been chatting with earlier, to inform them that I was in the midst of a raging storm. Never mind the fact that talking on the phone while driving is against the law out here, and not the smartest – or safest – idea when Mother Nature is pummeling you with her fury. But hey, I survived!

All along, I’m thinking of the e-mail my mom had sent that very afternoon. About how it was sunny and 88 in Florida. My kids might as well have been spending Spring Break on the moon, as much as I could relate.

Speaking of trips to the moon (or other far-off travels in the ‘Verse), I recently discovered a wonderful, glorious sci-fi series called Firefly. Actually, I can’t even claim this discovery, as it was my friend Steven who pushed the series on me, insisting that it was brilliant and I’d love it. Funny thing is, Steven wasn’t the first person to sing the praises of Firefly to me; a girl I dated a few years ago was also a big fan and suggested I check it out. My attitude was yeah, yeah…if it’s so great, why did FOX cancel the series after only eleven episodes? After watching the series on DVD from start to finish (thanks for lending it to me, Steven!), I think the answer is quite simple: the people who ran FOX back in 2002 were either A) Smoking crack, B) Insane, or C) All of the above. Because I gotta say, I instantly fell in love with Firefly. It’s from Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, so you know right off the bat it’s got a great pedigree.

Best sci-fi show ever. Watch it!! (Courtesy of

Growing up, I enjoyed all things space-related. I was your typical Star Wars-obsessed boy who also really dug Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek and Alien and even, god help me, The Black Hole. I ate that stuff up. Given my penchant for sci-fi, it’s a wonder I didn’t latch onto Firefly right from the start. It’s a great combination of Wild West-meets-outer space with a terrific cast full of divergent characters. They are all flawed, to some extent, but that only makes them more human. Nathan Fillion is Captain Malcom “Mal” Reynolds, and he’s every bit as cantankerous and law-skirting as Han Solo. His crew includes a female mechanic; an interracial married couple; a shepherd; a “companion” (legal prostitute); and a doctor and his mysterious, psychic sister who may or may not have been lobotomized, among others. It is wildly entertaining and features witty dialogue and action-filled story lines…and I’m totally in lust with Inara now. Sigh.  I’m glad that I got into the series – better late than never – but disappointed that it only lasted for such a limited run. I want more, dammit! But alas, other than the feature film Serenity – which I intend to watch this week – that’s all she wrote, sadly. If you have never seen Firefly, I have only one thing to say to you:

Watch it!!!


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

27 thoughts on “You Can’t Take The Sky From Me

  1. We’ve been having a ridiculously long summer here. Breaking records all over the place for most days without rain, most days and nights at highest temperatures, it has been awful and the whole region was going insane with heatstroke, I’m quite suer of it. We just finally got our first rain the other day, and a little more last night. Mother Nature’s been a bit grumpy with all of us lately, huh?


    1. Ugh…I would much rather break records for cold and rain than heat and sun. I’m definitely not a fan of hot weather. No wonder you are all grumpy over there – hope it cools off for you soon!


  2. Your mom was right. It was a sunny 88 here in Florida today in Miami. The flip side of that is that in July, August and September it will be 188. I love all the space sci-fi too and Stargate. Since there is not much out there I read these adventures now. Having seen all these in film has made it easier and enriching to be able to visualize the action of the printed word. The best of all for me was Babylon 5. It had the characters, the actors that fit the characters. the story, the set, a philosophy with a purpose and more.


    1. Babylon 5 is another show I’ve heard great things about but never seen.
      You know, I could probably handle Miami just fine. In December. Any other time of year? Forget it!


  3. You’re welcome Mark – It’s my pleasure to boost the signal even more and who knows… Star Trek was revived as a canceled series too. One can only hope. For now, it remains a treasure to be shared with others and I’m glad to call myself a Brown coat. 🙂


  4. From here on the other side of the country, I have sympathy – and empathy – for your sucky weather to date.

    Am adding Firefly to my Netflix queue at your suggestion. Thanks!


  5. Yah, I smirked when you said you had hail. But Wisconsin is having a similar difficulty picking seasons right now. Today was foggy and rainy, 70 and sunny, windy and gray, and is ending with a nice lightening storm, no thunder. It’s like Mother Nature is playing seasonal twister, West Coast Hail, Midwest Lightening! Look out South, Freezing rain headed your way.


    1. I know, I know. I’ve lived in both South Dakota and Ohio, so I’m familiar with “real” hail! And also “real” snow. It’s amazing how much your perceptions change once you’ve lived in a place for awhile.

      What I love most about the PNW is the consistency of our climate. It’s never overly hot or cold for long. It may take awhile for summer to arrive, but when it does, it’s usually pretty comfortable.


  6. I will have to check out Firefly, as I love science fiction. Also, like Tori in Tennessee, those of us in Kentucky have been experiencing usual heat–no hail–but temperatures in the upper 80s over the weekend. Hope you have a great Monday!


  7. Here’s to hoping that the pacific northwest clears up before I head up from the pacific southwest to Washington for summer vacation in July! I appreciate it if it’s not hot, but I don’t think I want it to hail when I’m sleeping in a tent. And thanks for the Firefly tip – I’ll have to check it out via netflix!


  8. hehe cant help but snickering…i want a markmobile…maybe then it would be a minkamobile. i have a lame mobile ford focus… ppl like to call it mean names…boo.. anywho.. im gonna fight ya on this one..i would take rain over snow. we had soo much snow this year yuck… it was pretty horrible. I live in mn the snow even collapsed our metradome.. or our football team brought in dumptrucks full of snow and broke their roof with hopes of a new stadium…either way…bad winter.. rain…snow..its all bad when u get too much of it. hailstorms are really bad. i was driving through tornado warnings all day yesterday…tornados in april… odd… hope we all get some better weather.


    1. Hi, Minka – I read about the Metrodome collapsing. I’m guessing it takes a lot of snow for that to happen, even by Minnesota standards! At least I don’t have to deal with tornado warnings out here.


  9. And New York today was between high 70s and low 80s, depending on which weather source you believe. Oh, and according to my Beloved, who was turned on to Firefly by his sons, Firefly was yanked by Fox after protests by conservative “Christians” after the episode where Inara has a female client. There’s also a movie, called “Serenity,” which you can look for. Roger and I cut our teeth on Star Trek (in high school, we used to flash each other the Vulcan greeting when we passed in the hall changing classes), and he’s had me watching Firefly with him lately and I enjoy it, although I haven’t the same passion for it he does — maybe it’s the Chinese cursing: he learned some Chinese in his years as an engineer and nearly choked the first time he heard them on the show, because he knew what they were saying. It might also be that his sons claim when they were growing up, he was just like the captain.


    1. Funny, that was probably my favorite episode. LOL…the look on Jayne’s face, and his “I’ll be in my bunk” comment were priceless. I always wondered if the Chinese curse words were real…love that they were! I need a translator.


  10. Mark–
    weel, you know I am SICK of the ick.
    READY for spring!!!

    I still have the unopened box of “Firefly” upstairs…our schedules, you know?

    we are all never at home at the same time…

    blessings, and fun post!
    (right now it’s sunny here. shhhh….)


    1. Ever since I uttered the words “we haven’t had hail in a long time,” I’ve been caught in hailstorms while driving three times in the past week. Weird!


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