Most children grow up with either a fascination or a fear of thunderstorms. All that noise and flashes of lightning are pretty amazing for a young person. Some kids, like my husband, watch with interest and awe as the heavens collide. Others, like me, hide from the storm — either under covers or in the pages of a good book.
As I’ve grown up, however, storms don’t bother me as much as they did when I was younger. I will confess, though, that they often seem to coincide with, or even contribute to, other strange events. Most of these events are tragic, in fact it seems rare for a summer to go by without hearing about somebody who’s been struck by lightning. Perhaps the worst or these events was the soccer team in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1998 that was struck by lightning during a game. According to reports by the BBC, the 11 members of the visiting team who were on the field were killed, while the entire home team was unscathed.
Some happenings aren’t as much tragic as strange, or even inspiring. On Mothers’ Day, 2000, we attended church as it was a Sunday. While we were there, a big thunderstorm hit, with all the noise, light, and winds that are typical in our great Midwest. The church was not affected, so we were surprised to arrive home and find one of our old trees had fallen.
Now, when I say “old,” I am not kidding. Conservative estimates put this particular hackberry tree at 300 -400 years of age. The stump of this tree was six feet in diameter. This tree, and an even bigger (older) one, stood behind our house to the east, on a slight hill, which is the stunning part of the whole story.
The tree was so big, it had to be hit by either lightning or wind of incredible strength to fell it. But the bigger tree, just a few feet away, was not touched. When the hackberry did fall, it didn’t fall downhill, which would have been what you’d think. It fell uphill and took out many of the trees 20 yards away from it’s trunk at the end of our east yard. Had it fallen downhill, it would have crushed our family room and perhaps damaged our spring.
Thunderstorm magic, I say.
Last weekend, we witnessed some more thunderstorm magic. We were in Ohio Stadium watching the football team play the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes. Our team played pretty poorly the first quarter, tying Tulsa 3 – 3. We gained only about 17 yards that entire quarter. Then clouds became ominous and the rain began pelting in sheets. By near the end of the second quarter, we were sitting in a monsoon. Ever faithful, we didn’t leave the stands and watched from ponchos while our defense score two touchdowns. After an extended half, the game continued in the downpour and we clobbered the Hurricanes 48-3.
Thunderstorms can cause devastation. They can also bring about extraordinary events. Have you had a strange or wondrous thunderstorm experience?
Email me at email@example.com.
Sue is a retired public servant who volunteers at a local elementary school and Hospice and keeps busy taking care of house, husband, son, and pets. She lives just outside of Troy, Ohio.