My first day off work in seven days has finally arrived and with it came a great amount of rain. This is turning out to be a Spring dictated by the pendulum swing of Mother Nature’s moods. The past two nights we have been treated to incredible lightning displays interspersed with loud rolling thunderclaps. Pelting rain and hail have also made an appearance. I enjoy a good thunderstorm every so often. The intense energy of a thunderstorm is exhilarating. I have great memories of sitting outside in the breezeway with my dad and sisters watching thunderstorms as a kid. My dad instilled in us that all aspects of Nature and weather are to be respected and enjoyed. These are the memories that last a lifetime. I think this is why I love the energy of storms and rainfall so much.
Last night as I sat sipping tea with a wonderful friend in the window of Starbucks, intensely discussing our lives since we last talked. We noted periodically the flashes of lightning strikes on the other side of the glass. I was feeling a bit edgy being so vulnerable while at the same time enthralled by Nature’s magnificence. Why is it that often we are drawn to things that can do great damage? Like storm chasers following tornadoes or those that love the thrill of cliff-diving. The chances of being struck by lightning are pretty slim but it’s still a possibility. It seems to me by my limited research that approximately 120 to 190 people per year are struck by lightning in Canada. On average about 10 people per year die from lightning strikes in Canada alone. Most of these “hits” occur in Ontario, Quebec or Saskatchewan. Yet another reason I refrain from golfing (not really, I just am a seriously terrible golfer). There are not enough trips to the clubhouse that could make me enjoy spending time on the course. One interesting tidbit is that 84% of lightning strike victims are male and sometimes while holding a metal club while in an open area. Very curious.
One of my early recollections of lightning striking close to home was just that; lightning striking my home. Luckily no one was in the house at the time. My mom and I had been shopping for back to school clothes if I remember correctly and we were coming out of the shopping mall on the opposite side of the city from where we lived when the thunderstorm began. The thunder was insanely loud, that I still remember. When we finally returned home we noticed bricks scattered around the yard and our chimney missing. Inside the house told the story of how damaging lightning can be. Throughout the second story of the house the jolt of electricity left its calling card. Even down the stairwell at the opposite side of the house there was evidence remaining. I recall standing in the backyard noting how the bricks of the chimney lay while listening as the adults talked. Funny how only certain snippets of past events stay within our memory while the remaining information is suppressed or deleted.
From this moment, I was a lightning enthusiast. I have a healthy respect for the destructive power while being enthralled by its magnificence. Shortly after the aforementioned event I went on a warpath in the tiny school library looking for information about lightning and storms. I became hyperaware of safety protocols and still recall vividly the day on the school playground when a thunderstorm rolled in at recess and a bunch of kids ran to a lone tree in the middle of the field. I kept thinking “what a bunch of idiots! Don’t they know that is the worst place to stand?” Obviously they didn’t know and were more concerned with getting wet than being struck by lightning!
I have passed along my appreciation of a great thunderstorm to my kids. Some nights when the sky is filled with flashes of lightening bolts we snuggle on the living room couch and watch as Nature shows off. Way better than squeezing in amongst other people, vying for the perfect position and swatting at mosquitos to watch a fireworks display, I’d say. Now that Spring has finally arrived and with it the likelihood of thunderstorms, I feel electrified. Pardon the pun.
“There are many silly superstitions about lightning, and as a result many people – maybe even you – are terrified of it. You shouldn’t worry. Thanks to modern science we now know that lightning is nothing more than huge chunks of electricity that can come out of the sky, anytime, anywhere, and kill you.” – Dave Barry