Posts Tagged ‘thunderstorms’


When my cousin Rob was struck by lightning, he woke up under his own dining room table and lay there for a few minutes trying to decide if he was dead. He has never First Snowbeen a big believer in his own soul, so the thought that he might be dead and yet somehow still under the table cogitating caused him some concern.

Eventually he decided that dead would probably hurt less, and he crawled out, discovering in the process that while he was alive, all of his electronics were not. He never even found all of his cell phone. What he said later was, “Grandaddy was right.”

Our grandfather lived much of his life in fear of all things meteorological, plus snakes and moving water. In summer, he would squint at the horizon and say, “It looks like it’s going to come a thunderstorm.” In winter, he did the same squint and said “Feels like snow.” My mother grew up seriously afraid of storms and used to spend them in the (enclosed) staircase of our house, while my sister and I watched from the windows. She counted that as one of her greatest achievements—she didn’t pass on her fear.

And yet there is a genetics that goes deeper than experience, and that is why I am not a fan of snow. Where I grew up, snow was not your white, fluffy friend. Out in the country, people stayed put, or if they had to drive, they did so slowly, with chains, and even then sometimes spent the night in their cars when things went bad on Max Creek Hill or Lowman Hill. Nobody went joyriding in the snow because if you slid off the road somewhere, it might take days to dig you out, and in the meantime, who was going to take care of the cows?
So even now, I have a “Who is going to take care of the cows?” mentality. My Beloved has to get to work no matter what, because hospitals do not close due to weather conditions. Our friend the letter carrier will carry mail, and our friend the state police officer will patrol. I just can’t do the happy dance when it snows.

But there’s this: My Beloved was able to get home on Thursday evening before 81 shut down. By that time, the roads weren’t too bad, thanks to people who, metaphorically, take care of the cows. Our whole street came out to shovel yesterday; it was a party, albeit a little short on canapés and booze. Watching the dog trying to find a place to poop cracks me up. It’s the little things that matter, when the world slows down for snow.

This morning, I finished another quilt top and had bacon for breakfast for the second day in a row. The guys are downstairs watching basketball, and there might be music later. I have yet to be struck by lightning, and Rob does not pick up radio stations with his teeth, so perhaps the world is not as scary as I’m genetically programmed to believe it is.

But it will be okay with me if this is the last snow of the season . . .


Doggone Thunderstorms

This is a photograph of my current situation, vis-à-vis my feet.  What appears to be a fluffy uni-slipper is actually our dog, and he is doing what he always does during thunderstorms these days, which is hang out—not exactly UNDER foot, but somewhere in the vicinity of my feet.

It has not always been like this, but I can’t pinpoint when the change happened.  We got him when he was seven months old, and even though our older dog, Sinjin, was currently in residence and always a complete idiot during storms, the Wowpup was oblivious.  Even after Sinjin went to his long home, the Wowpup continued happily unaffected by storms.

This is no longer the case.

Last spring, when the tornado struck, I was, along with my Beloved and a bunch of other people, standing in our dining room going “Wow, is this a tornado?”  This kind of behavior could be a form of natural selection, but since we’ve already reproduced, it’s too late for the gene pool.

The Wowpup had positioned himself in the door to the den and was keening, whining, and otherwise trying to tell us, “Yes, you morons, it IS a tornado, and let’s all go get in a closet, shall we?”

He repeated this with increasing urgency until he finally gave up and went to the closet by himself.  Had we been splattered all over Northwood, he alone would have survived to tell the tale.   We found him, by candlelight several hours later, under a rack of my Beloved’s suits.  Only his nose was showing.

Now, whenever thunder rumbles in the distance, he wants to come lie on my feet.  If my feet are somewhere inconvenient, like under my desk, he will lie on them anyway, resulting in a certain amount of cramping and upheaval.  This afternoon, he is wedged between my feet and a footstool.  I’m supposed to be meeting some people for dinner soon, and I worry that I will not be able to pry him off me.

I wonder if restaurants will allow you to bring your dog in if he is serving as a pair of shoes, or, more accurately, a single big shoe?  It will not be a fashion statement, but by golly, your feet will stay warm all evening, or at least until the storm passes.

What the Thunder Said

The title comes from the last section of T.S. Eliot’s modernist masterpiece, The Waste Land. In that final section, the thunder echoes in a dead, dry land where no water is, promising rain but not delivering.

That is not our current relationship with thunder, but I thought about the poem as I lay in bed last night, watching lightning streak across the sky between us and Peak’s Knob. A year ago, a thunderstorm was just a thunderstorm. I enjoy storms, particularly the ones that boom through on summer evenings, cooling everything down and refreshing the grass. In fact, on the April night of The Storm, I stood in my dining room with a bunch of musicians watching it go by, a green-white wall like nothing we’d seen before.

It wasn’t anything we’d seen before. My kids grew up knowing there was one natural disaster they didn’t have to be afraid of – tornadoes. “The mountains break them up,” we’d say, cheerfully, because we believed it. Turns out, the mountains make them leap skyward again, and set down miles away. Turns out, the finger of the clouds can scrape our mountain town just as if it were hunkered down on some prairie. Tail lights flashed across the valley last night during the storm, and my brain went back to last April, when that side of town was a mass of flashing emergency lights – fire, ambulance, police. Even for an unregenerate storm-lover, it was unsettling.

This summer, when I helped teach art in our community vacation Bible school, we had a kid who drew tornadoes on everything; he even made a toothpick tornado. His family had lost its home, but it seemed that he had lost more than that. I wondered about him last night, if he was able to ride out the storms settled in someone’s lap.  I also hoped he wasn’t listening to the local weather stations, who were playing up the stormageddon angle for all it was worth, like we needed that.

The night of The Storm, my Beloved looked at our friends’ kids, playing with Legos by candlelight. “I’m sorry, you guys,” he said softly. “You’re not going to get to grow up believing we don’t have tornadoes.” You’re not going to sleep easy during a night of storms anymore, either. None of us are.

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