Olivia Newport hail in handWell. Perhaps I should clarify. I’m not sure I would ever express a need for heat and hail in my life, but it’s at least remotely possible that these hallmark features of a Colorado summer serve a purpose.

I remember the first time I saw hail here. Of course I’d seen hail before, but not like this. We moved to Colorado in June, 16 years ago, and I was working on the third floor of an office building with walls of windows. When the howl of hail started, work stopped. Everyone migrated to the windows and beheld the hail.

I stood there with my mouth open as the stuff piled up and obscured the landscaping. Heaps of white stuff on the ground. Not snow. Welcome to Colorado.

Maybe you saw pictures in the national news only a few weeks ago, again in June, of hail deep enough to bury cars in a mall parking lot here in town. It did a number on the flowers I’d been looking forward to all spring. Beat those suckers up something fierce.

Three weeks later, the Waldo Canyon Fire jumped a ridge and ravaged the northwest part of our city. My city. While my neighborhood was not threatened, I lost count of how many friends had to evacuate their homes with about two hours notice. The air was unhealthy for everyone. And of course it was 100 degrees every day that week.

So where is the purpose?

Whenever I work in my yard, I wax metaphorical. I don’t much like working in the yard, and—as a consequence, I suppose—I don’t have a beautiful yard by any stretch. In fact, it’s probably in the category of neglected the last couple years. But I have a little brick patio where I hang my hammock and when I’m in it, I cannot abide looking around and seeing the weeds. They distress me. So I get up and at least pull enough to have a clear visual field in one direction.

I did that tonight. Then I watered. (Now I’m in my hammock.) Most of the perennials are gone, either past their season, strangled by heat, or assaulted by hail and afternoon monsoon rains, but a few blooms straggle for acknowledgement. The Virginia creeper is creeping all over the place, making its own evil wilderness, and I wonder what I was thinking when I put it there. I pulled some away from the anorexic Russian sage.

Tending the yard in even these small ways invariably makes me think of tending my life. I won’t claim it’s an original metaphor, but I will own up that it’s a persistent one for me. It cycles back every summer and challenges the daylights out of me.

I don’t have to explain it. You can take the metaphor and match it up to the blooms and weeds, the heat and hail, in your own life.

Am I merely clearing the clutter from the visual field of my life, or am I pulling hard and digging deep to make something beautiful?