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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The leaves will bow down

I love a good thunderstorm. It's a love that was fostered by my dad when I was a small child. He would set me on his lap on the front porch of the old farmhouse. There were two huge maples, probably more than a hundred years old, in the front yard not twenty feet from the house. I remember squealing with fear and delight when an ear-splitting crack of thunder and the following lightning would be so close you could almost feel the electrical charge and smell the sulphur in the air. Daddy would hold me tight and tell me to not be afraid...that it was only noise.

One day we were enjoying the unleashed forces, when the inevitable happened. The maple tree to the left of us was struck by a huge bolt of lightning and crrrrackkkk half of the tree was gone...split right down the middle. Lucky for us, the falling half of the tree fell away from the house. Daddy rushed inside with me, fearful that the rest of it could go any second. It didn't and all was well, except for a power outage that seemed to last for days in a little girl's mind, but in reality was probably only five or six hours. Daddy cut down the rest of the tree, and that was the last time we sat on the porch to watch a storm. Oh, we still liked watching them, but from the relative safety through the window.

When my children were little, we would kneel on the couch in front of the big windows and watch the trees thrash and the rain blow hard against the panes. Hail always made it extra exciting. They never feared storms and always looked forward to the show. If the power went out (which it often did because our electricity was from a rural co-op), we played word games and read by candlelight. One of my favorite games was to name all the states and their capitols. I'm still pretty good at it.

I can think of only two times when I was really frightened by a storm. The first was when Aimee and I were home alone and a storm came up that was so fast and furious, it made me a little nervous. When lightning struck the deck after a thunderclap so loud it hurt our ears, we both clung to each other until it was over. That storm gave me a lot more respect for them, especially as a mother protecting her children.

The second time was on our famous trip out west in the camper. We were camping in a private campground on the edge of Glacier National Park. In the summer, the sun doesn't set until ten or later. After supper, David wanted to take another short hike, but I was pooped and decided to stay in camp. He took the kids and was gone and gone and gone some more. You are warned when you're in the mountains that storms can come up very quickly and it can get freezing cold just as quickly, but when they left, the sky had been completely clear with no sign of impending weather and they hadn't taken any rain gear or jackets to keep warm.

Of course, a vicious thunderstorm blew up around 9:00. I was huddled in the camper, hoping for a sign that they had arrived safely back at the site. At ten o'clock, the storm had blown over, but they still weren't back and it was nearly dark and I was getting hysterical, so I headed to the camp office to have them call a park ranger to get a search party together. About the time the campground manager located the ranger and was explaining the details, I saw our mini-van come rolling into the parking lot. I didn't know whether to cry with relief or to give David a good tongue lashing about endangering the kids' lives and his own. I think I did both. He explained that it hadn't even rained where they were and had no idea I would be so worried. This was long before cell phones, and they probably wouldn't have worked there, if we had owned one.

We could use a good thunderstorm in our area. The weather has been nearly unbearable and everything is drying up. We did get a little break when one danced all around us a couple of days ago which made it a little cooler. We heard some thunder off in the distance, but we only got a quarter-inch of rain and I'm having to water the garden. So, hats off to thunderstorms...may they bring you entertainment, relief from the heat and a thirst-quenching rain, but not any harm to you and your loved ones.

This song reminds me of my dad and me.

http://new.music.yahoo.com/peter-paul-mary/tracks/for-baby-for-bobbie--23428798

23 comments:

Ruth said...

Oh I was with you and your daddy on the porch. We did the same, and I love thunderstorms, as do all my sisters, and our mom.

We've gotten so much rain this summer, it's going to be a terrific year for our farmers in Michigan, with the heat and rain combined. I'm sorry you haven't gotten enough.

I loved this story, and I could hear and smell it all, so well told.

Cindy said...

oh Susan, I love this story! You make me yearn for a good thunderstorm. A heavy dose of rain would keep me from having to water the gardens. My mother has always been very afraid of storms, and I'm so glad her fears didn't rub off on me. Bring it on!

Wanda..... said...

No thunderstorms for a few weeks, but we've had plenty of rain, it's just now turning hot and dry after a few weeks of HOT and HUMID! Every morning lately has looked misty, today was a little more enjoyable! I LOVE thunderstorms that do no harm!

Cora said...

I would so love a thunderstorm right about now! It is so dry here in the south and we too are having to water our garden everyday. We said yesterday that we were not going to plant anything new until it cools off a bit. Our poor gras is crunchy and gray. I welcome the rain.....please! And love the smell after a good shower too.
Blessings to you!

Char said...

wonderful memories. i can remember sitting on the screened-in parch watching the rain when i was in the 2nd grade and loving it. i can also remember being at my aunt's house and tracking a hurricane with my cousin (she lives about 90 miles north of the beach). memories are sometimes wonderful things. sometimes sweet, sometimes bittersweet...

Sandy Nawrot said...

I just love thunderstorms - I love to watch them roll in (especially over the ocean) and smell all of the wonderful smells they bring. I've had a few bad experiences with hurricanes though, ones I'd just rather forget. So I would qualify my answer with anything under, let's say, 40 miles an hour!

Sharon said...

The great memories that you shared of thunderstorms made me remember some fun times as a kid. To this day I love a good thunder and lightening storm, but we don't see them often on the West Coast.

alaine@éclectique said...

I love a thunderstorm too. We usually get them in October/November, in our spring. We're in the middle of winter and so far have only had woosy showers!

Oliag said...

We have had several good thunderstorms recently...during one I was home alone and sat on my porch and just enjoyed the whole thing. Your post was full of wonderful memories. Hope you get a thunderstorm soon!

ds said...

I heard that tree, smelled the rain, and became frantic in the trailer right along with you. Great stories, Susan, and you told them so well.
Love the song too--thanks for sharing!

Susan said...

Thank you, dear Ruthie...one of our many commonalities...our love of storms.

We had a lot of rain up to a point and then it just dried up. The soil seems to get parched so quickly here. There are cracks in the ground big enough to lose a small child...that's a bit of an exaggeration, but just a bit. :) Luckily, we have a very good well, so I'll just keep watering until we're blessed with some rain.

Susan said...

Cindy, my mom wasn't quite as enamored of storms as my dad, but I don't think she was fearful of them. So, you guys are dry up there, too? That's not supposed to happen, is it? You were drowning just a couple of months ago...why couldn't Mother Nature spread out her goodness a little more evenly?

Thank you.

Susan said...

Wanda, all that lovely rain that you've been having has just been passing us by, darn it. Thank goodness for the slightly cooler and less humid air though. It's the first time I've opened my windows in a month. I've felt like I was in prison.

Susan said...

Cora dear, I hope you receive some wonderful rain very soon. It sounds like it's much drier there than it is here. My grass isn't quite to the crunchy stage, but it's getting there.

I'm with you on the new planting. I have an open spot right now, but I'm waiting a week or so until the weather is better.

Susan said...

Char, life's memories are that way, aren't they? Everyone needs a good cry now and then and sometimes those bittersweet ones help you to wash away a heavy load.

I like to sit in our screened 3-season room now and watch the storms pass by. It's very healing.

Susan said...

Sandy, I couldn't agree with you more! I've only experienced one hurricane and that was Andrew in 1992 when we lived in Baton Rouge. We didn't even get the full brunt of it and that was enough for me. Well, we did get some damage from Alex a couple of years ago when we had 75 mph winds. That was pretty freaky, living as far inland as we do.

I forgot to include one of my favorite memories of a storm and you brought it to mind. We were in Florida at New Smyrna Beach and sat in our van and watched a storm roll in and out for a couple of hours. It was awesome! Talk about being close to the elements!

Susan said...

Alaine, I'm glad you're getting some rain, although I'm sure you wish it were more to get you through the dry season. Here's to a good cracking thunderstorm in Australia, near Alaine's house!!

Susan said...

Oops! Sorry, Sharon, I got you out of order.

I didn't realize that thunderstorms weren't common on the West Coast. I guess it makes you really appreciate them when it does happen.

Susan said...

Oliag, you have the perfect porch for getting cozy with a thunderstorm! I can just picture you snuggled up on your wicker sofa with a cuppa or a nice glass of wine watching the show!

Susan said...

Well, ds, my little story can't compare with that awesome one you told last week about the storm. But thank you, my friend. Your support and kind words mean the world. I'm glad you enjoyed my reminiscing and the song. Wasn't her voice just wonderful? I'm listening to the new Peter, Paul and Mary boxed set that I borrowed from the library and I had forgotten that she recorded that John Denver song. I really prefer her version.

Deborah said...

Haven't listened to the song yet but I will!
I'm surprised that either of yo had any hearing left, being that close to a strike. The most incredible storm I've ever been in unleashed a bolt on top of the local Walmart, about a mile away, and the sound of it seemed to be right beside me.
Great story, Susie! I liked the image of playing games by candlelight and believe it or not, I also liked the state capitols game!! Since you have so many more we do, it was a lot more challenging.

VioletSky said...

I love a good thunderstorm. My head is even saying: please bring one on.... though apparently there was a vicious one where I live yesterday, except I wasn't here and had no idea. I was sitting under a very big umbrella at an outdoor cafe until the driving rain sent us inside. But, at least one house and one man were destroyed by lightening in two separate incidents.

If only we could have the light and noise show without any damage.

The Bumbles said...

They scare the bejeezus out of me. Especially the ones in the mountains. I think of them as Mother Nature's way of reminded us that she can kick our ass anytime she likes.