Rain, Thunder, Lightning, deep gray, angry clouds and sudden high winds are wonders to me, they excite and ask me to be a part of them. Some times, restraint is needed, so I remember not to put myself in danger, but give me the overture, musical and exit music of a Midwestern storm and I am as excited, happy, fulfilled and energetic as I am before, during and after a roller coaster ride.
June brought not only my birthday, but the possibilities of awesome and monumental thunder storms as I grew up on the farm in Iowa. When a storm approached it always seemed it came from nowhere; suddenly, far in the distance dark, gray clouds traveled toward the farm. Little, by little the azure blue skies with the fluffy balls of white, cumulus castellanus clouds were replaced by the fast moving angry arcus clouds. Soon all the stages of the storm begin and I, as a young boy waited anxiously. Unfortunately, when the storms blew in my Father often interrupted my reverie to latch gates and doors to make the livestock, chicken and pigs safe within their contained spaces..
I wasn’t too happy with needing to care for the barnyard creatures and with boyish thoughts felt they needed no protection. My Father’s watchful eye never let me think too long and begrudgingly hurried on to latch the gates on the fences and doors on the barn so the animals were safe from the storm and from their own fright of storms. Once done doing my duty, I quickly returned to my post to watch my impressive storm. Even if my parents called me to safety , I knew I could sneak away for the show!!
When the sky was entirely covered by the angry, gray clouds that caused the day to darken as if it were dusk, a hollow, sound of wind signaled the sound and light show to begin soon, the time that was my most exciting.
From the near distance, deep, bass rumbles of thunder reverberated across the barnyard. As the sound echoed over my head, bright white bolts of lighting cracked in the sky. The next moments were heaven to my senses and as I stood with a broadened smile and sparkling eyes, the first huge raindrops fell on my head. Each drop forcefully hit and splashed on my face. I knew that if I lingered I would be caught in a torrent of rain. Sadly, I turned and ran for the cover of the house, barely making it to the overhung porch on the summer kitchen. It was all to good to just ignore, so instead of going in the house, I went into the summer kitchen where I could lean my cheek against the old screen door, as though I was watching my lover dance before my eyes.
Now, much later in life I am still as intrigued by storms as I was in my youth, yet now I am always annoyed if I get wet as I watch!! As I often stand in doorways of businesses watching a storm play its complete symphony I smile and remember when storms were frightening to me and how that all changed:
All little children are put in bed far too early. I was four and Momma tucked me into the top bunk bed shortly after supper. Laying there I wondered when I would be able to stay up later. Momma told me when I was older I wouldn’t need as much sleep. I thought to myself that I felt like I had a whole bunch of sleep so why did I have to have it then. Finally, as little boys and girls do, I fell a sleep.
As I woke in the little bed, the room in the trailer was so dark and it felt like the our trailer was moving. Suddenly, a crack and boom sounded that scared me and as I came upright I banged my head on the handle that opened the ceiling vent in the room. It hurt so bad and when combined with the wind hitting the trailer the effect caused me to scream out in fear, Within moments, my Mother took me in her arms, singing quietly as she carried me in her arms to living room.
Momma sat on the sofa holding me tight. I remember that as I cried I played with the hem of her full skirt. It was a deep emerald green and eventually I moved so that I could lay my head on her lap and curl up next to her on the sofa. As she stroked and patted my blond hair she continued singing the simple little Italian folk songs that she always sang to us at bedtime. Regardless, I sremained upset because of the storm. Momma told me a story about how storms were made and why I should not be afraid of the sound or the wind. The story spoke of how God made heaven and earth and that the skies were there for us to get to heaven. Sometimes, even God got sick and the lightning and thunder helped him feel better. Once he started feeling fine he gives a gift back for our patience and endurance. The gift a beautiful, delicate rainbow that willl always surprise and please.
It may have not been the most creative story in the world, but it did calm me. The noise and cracks of light had a reason to happen and if it meant a rainbow all seemed better. From that time on I began to look at storms in a different way and became fascinated by them.
One day, while I was at my Mother’s apartment in Arizona, a storm of giant proportions quickly blew in. My mother sat frozen in her big chair. Next, the lights went out and I heard my Mother fidgeting in the chair. I asked her what she was doing. A tiny, suppressed voice finally uttered to get a candle lit and come to her because she hated storms!
Later we talked and she told me she had always been deathly afraid of storms, but she had no intention of letting me be afraid that night in the trailer, nor was she going to let me or the storm know just how frightened she was until the time was right. From that night on, if a storm was headed toward my Mother’s apartment, I quickly got her and brought her to my house so she wasn’t alone. With each succeeding storm, Momma always smiled and said, “Go Ahead, Go outside for a while—just be in here for the lightening strikes!!