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June 14, 2010

Summer Storm

During the past couple weeks, we've had our fair share of rain and storms.  It's the kind of weather I like--sullen and moody to downright dangerous. 

I went through a phase in my childhood where thunderstorms terrified me.  The summer I turned twelve, lightning strikes burned two homes in our tiny town.  One house had roof damage and fried electronics.  The other was completely destroyed.  It belonged to a family with kids my age, and one of the girls had brought her kitten to the pet show a week before.  The kitten was in the house when it burned.  I remember it as a Siamese or Himalayan--a squriming, mewling puff of white and gray fur with a pink ribbon around its neck.  I felt sick when I thought of it trapped in that burning house; when I imagined how that girl felt.

Every time it stormed that summer, I'd pack up the things most important to me in a hot pink tote bag, which I kept at my side--ready to evacuate if the lightning struck.  My mom tried to convince me the watertower in the vacant lot next door was a giant lightning rod that would keep us safe, but still I prepared for the worst.  I would keep an eye on our pets.  We had a cat and three dogs in the house at that time.  I figured the dogs would be simple enough to save, but the cat might give me problems.  Cats disappear; they don't always come when you call; they claw you to shreds when they're scared.

For a summer or two the fear lingered.  I was never a clinging, crying mess during storms.  I was simply ready, with my eyes on the sky or the weather radar; my wordly possessions (which amounted to tennis rackets and notebooks of writing) at hand; and my cat locked out of the bedrooms. 

Then, somehow, I outgrew my phobia.  My brother and I would play tennis in the rain until the thunder came too close.  He would drive out to the pasture or to the edge of town, and we would try to take lightning photos, which never turned out like we wanted.  The electricity in the air became a spark of life lived instead of something that would kill me.  I wonder if my brother knew how he was helping me.

It's clouding up here again, but today's supposed to be the last day of rain for a while.  What?  You don't suppose I gave up watching the weather altogether, do you?

Today write about a thunderstorm, and think about the storm in a new way.  How does the storm look from a robin's point of view?  From a farmer's?  A mother's?  A hunter's?  Play with the scene's setting.  What's the time of day?  Public setting or a private; beach or backwater; threatening or comforting?  If you like, post your creation in the comments.  I'd love to see what you come up with.

  photo by jpstanley

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