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Life Chez Dee Episode #69: A dark and stormy night

‘Twas a dark and stormy night! Incredible sheet lightning, terrific fork lightning and the most enormous thunderous claps. The storm was immense and went on for hours. I reluctantly went to bed, wanting to stay and watch the incredible storm in full force, but knowing it was getting quite late. Amazingly, with the noise, flashing light and heat … crickey it was hot … I did manage to fall asleep, but was wakened a couple of times with the loudest crash of thunder I think I have ever heard.

And the rain, goodness me, the rain was lashing down … so heavy that this was worrying the cats. They were okay with the flashes in the sky, and the thunder claps … I knew they would be since

they love watching fireworks out of the window … but that constant deluge of rain was spooking them! Pablo wandered around looking at the storm from different windows, whilst Claude went under our bed. Claude under the bed worried Justin, as anyone who knows Claude will be aware that he will attack anything that moves including feet and hands if you’re sleeping. He’s always shut out of the bedrooms at night because of this, but we just couldn’t get him out last night.

I absolutely love thunderstorms, but I know many don’t. Even as a child I remember the magic of thunderstorms, and would stand by the window looking up at the sky, counting the seconds between the lightning and the thunder. I was telling Oliver about this and how you could tell how many miles away it was … but of course I stood corrected, with Justin telling me how it was actually more like 5 seconds per mile, rather than a mile per second as I was spouting.

Although I love watching the storms from the safety of the home, all my life I’ve been a little uneasy about being outside when caught in a thunderstorm. Worrying about my umbrella being up and acting as a conductor, worrying about being out walking, reassuring myself that I’m in a town with buildings much higher than me, rather than being out in the open countryside crossing a field where aside from a lonesome tree I am the highest point.

I know of one of our neighbours, when I was a child, was extremely nervous, and during a thunderstorm could always be found hiding under the stairs until the storm passed.

I often think of that scene in The Sound of Music, the one where all the Von Trapp children go racing into Maria’s bedroom, frightened by the storm outside. Why does it make that noise? they ask. “Well the lightning says something to the thunder, and the thunder answers” is the reply. Yeah, I know its tosh, and not the greatest of education for the children from their governess, but they then break into song about their favourite things to take their minds off the storm causing them so much upset. It’s a lovely list of favourites, but my list of favourites would include thunderstorms.

Can you survive a thunderstorm? Apparently 90% do amazingly, but given that there’s only about a 1 in 12,000 chance of this happening, and probably even less chance of lightning striking twice, I’m not sure whether or not to worry about the figure of about 500 people per year being hit.

It seems there is a great schism between those who love thunderstorms and those who don’t. Even the films portray them as dark and sinister, a feature of haunted castles, psychopaths, vampires and witches. All adding to the charge and excitement of knowing that something terrible is about to happen.

When I was a girl guide, back in the days when you went to someone’s house to take your test, which would never happen today of course, I went to the house of a guide leader to take my Weatherman’s Badge. I’m reminded of this after writing the previous paragraph, as approaching this house I remember feeling rather uncomfortable, the house was dark and unfriendly, and after ringing the doorbell was greeted by a large and formidable woman with as much hair sprouting out of her face as was on her head, who seemed to take great pleasure in shouting the correct way to pronounce her name as I stood in her shadow on the doorstep. I was terrified of her, and I recall so clearly just how terrified I was by her nasty comments, booming voice and general unfriendly ways.

Of course being out and about we are reminded of how great and powerful Mother Nature is, and just how small and vulnerable we are against something so incredibly powerful. We look up at the great architecture of vast buildings towering above us, even them needing the protection of the beautifully designed weather vanes adorning their peaks, towers and turrets, ready to channel the strong, powerful and potentially destructive energy force back safely to the ground

I can feel when a thunderstorm is coming, the energy in the atmosphere changes, I feel the change and that unknown force, there is anticipation, knowing that something powerful and forceful is on its way. We wish for it, eager for it to clear the heat and weight we feel. The air felt heavy and close last night, even in the eye of the storm, and it is still the same today, and with more storms forecast for this evening, I wonder if we’ll be treated again to the same light show, or whether nature will treat us to something even better. Can’t wait.

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