I was still small enough to be held, but no longer a baby. Or maybe that’s just how I’m remembering it. At any rate, I felt cocooned and safe with my mother beside me.
“It’s so pretty,” she’d murmur as we stood together at the screen door. “Look how pretty the clouds are.”
It was always dark — but the dark of an encroaching storm, rarely of night. The mist would barely brush our faces, along with a sweet, cool breeze.
When I got a little older — say, school-age, or close to it — we’d watch for the flashes of lightning, then count: one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand (which I later learned is backward from how most people do it), then either nod knowingly or jump, startled, when the thunder finally rumbled or cracked its reply.
“That must have been close to the high school,” said Mom one time. Usually it was much farther away: nine miles, about.
I grew to love thunderstorms. The smell of them, the sound, the beautiful contrast between the clouds and the land. The beauty, the drama. When we moved to Florida, I discovered that it would thunderstorm every afternoon during part of the year. I would sit in my bedroom, listening to music or reading, smelling the rain and watching it sheet down the open casement window.
Later on, I learned that my mother had purposefully instilled in me that love of storms, because she had been made so afraid of them by one particular incident in her childhood. Even so, I’m glad she did.
Thunderstorms, to me, are moments when I can stand at the open door, or sit on the front porch, or gaze out an open window, and let my senses take over. I breathe in that clean-smelling air, feel the mist on my face, and I’m four years old again, and there’s nothing but me and the rain.