TBT: Thunderstorms

I’ve written about this a few times before — probably because the memory is so vivid and special to me.

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One of my first vague memories is of being cradled in my mother’s arms, standing in the open front doorway. I could smell and feel the rain, and hear it, and hear the thunder, and all the while my mother was telling me how beautiful it was.

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I remember the feel of the mist on my face, the sound of occasional thunder and the flash of lightning, the constant patter of rain, and the clean smell on the wind. As I got older, Mom would stand with me at the door, and I remember her telling me how pretty the rain is.

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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.

pointing to a rainbow

rainbow over our apartment, 1980

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Last night, Connor woke up around 4:30am, scared of the thunderstorm. I hugged him while he told me that the thunder was scary.

“I think it’s pretty,” I said.

He thought about it. “I think so, too,” he agreed. Then he remembered what he’d learned in preschool earlier in the week, and his eyes lit up: “And when the rain is done, your flowers will be growed!”

Tonight, though, he wasn’t so sure the thunder was pretty. So, I pulled up the blinds, opened the window, and knelt with him at the windowsill behind the curtains as we watched the rain. The breeze carried the scent of rain into the bedroom, and I felt a fine mist on my face for just a moment.

I put my arm around his waist. “The rain is so pretty,” I said. He agreed, and we watched the dark clouds roll by, and watched the rain fall in puddles on the driveway.

“Mommy, look!” he said. “You forgot to put those sticks in the garbage!”

Ah, well. It was a nice moment while it lasted.

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