With our little corner of the world getting its annual spring deluges, it was nice to enjoy the first thunderstorm of the season on Sunday evening.
You know I am a nut about the weather, and you could just as easily leave off those last three words. I like rain and wind and cold and snow and howling blizzards. But a thunderstorm can be one of the great spectator events, and the price is absofreely lute.
It helps that we have a covered front porch. Standing underneath a tree or umbrella is not recommended, nor is flying a kite during an electrical storm. Even if you have bet someone a stack of Benjamins that you won't get zapped , it's still a risky business, and then you won't get to be around to see the next one if one should strike you or your fancy.
As soon as I hear the first distant rumble and can say with certainty that it's not the icemaker dropping another dozen cubes, or the garage door opener, or some other household device, I'm out there on the porch. I'll usually grab a transistor radio to take with me. Tuned to AM, a transistor radio is like a lightning crackle-meter. As the storm moves in closer, the annoying braying of ideologues on AM is mercifully drowned out by worthwhile energy. Used to be the Orioles ballgames were on an AM station, but now that they're on FM, I take the radio out on the porch with me, but you don't hear the storm coming on FM. Perhaps some station could arrange to augment their usual evening offerings with the recorded sounds of lightning coming down.
Storms usually happen in the evening, making them the perfect post-dinner entertainment in the sky. I think it's because after a long day of heat and humidity, the meteorological conditions become just right for sparkin' up a thunderation. Another reason is that Heaven wants to put their really good shows on during prime time. There are times that the storm comes along after bedtime, and it's got to be a major deal to wake me from that dream I keep having. You know, the one where dream interpretation turns out to be a really valid scientific field, and psychics come to rule the earth.
As the thunder becomes louder and closer, look around and you won't see any birds or other critters in the yard. This is because Nature, in all her infinite wisdom, has given them the sense to come in out of the rain before the rain even begins. So a stark stillness accentuates the gaps between peals of thunder. And the air - the sweet, sweet ozone - smells as crisp and fresh as any air freshener you could buy.
Everyone has to get out of the various pools, creeks and filled quarries, lest lightning hit the water. If you're near a pool, kids are standing around in flip flops, with giant towels wrapped around themselves, waiting it out.
Meanwhile, back in the neighborhood, someone will always come out on the street and say,"It's gonna pass over!" This expression means it's gonna pass us by, not pass over us, because passing over us is just what the storm does when it finally hits, and blinding sheets of rain, none of them fitted or ironed, start issuing forth from the sky. If it's dark enough, the entire sky will be illuminated like the beaming visage of Keith Richards as lightning bolts are tossed by Thor in Norse mythology.
Hey, if you had to lift those heavy lightning bolts and throw them around, you'd be Thor, too!
Two more things you can bet on happening in every storm:
1 - Some guy up the street will choose the exact moment that the heavens open up to dash into his car and leave for an errand. He will return in five minutes, soaked to the gills, bearing a lime Slurpee and a slightly ashamed look.
2 - Someone will say, "It's good for the farmers." Without fail, every time, someone will say this.
In just a few minutes, it's all over, and it's back to the La-Z-Boy recliner and the remote and last week's New Yorker and a glass of iced tea. Man, I gotta tell you, that is something like livin', huh? And it's all free! No charge! So to speak.