Monday, June 28, 2010

Lightning Crashes

My first brush with lightning came when I was in grade school. We had a gym in an ancient white building they said was built during the war, and I was never quite sure of they meant World War Two or the War of Northern Aggression. This building was also the source of my first experiments with how the sun moved across the sky each day. There were holes in the side of the building were the sun shone through and I would make a mark on the wall with a pencil to denote when it was time to go. The dots were almost in the same place each day, but not quite after a week or so, and over the space of a few years I noticed a pattern. But all great scientific minds face adversity and I was no different. As I announced Eureka the powers that be announced punishment for defacing the wall with a pencil. Yeah, like that wall, the one with the holes in it, could be defaced.
The ancient gym was a hundred yards away from the main school building and during thunderstorms we would make a mad dash across the open area like getting wet would have killed us. We were all crowded together in a sweaty mass at the front of the building when there was a mighty flash of light and we all felt a tingling in our feet. Lightning had hit a few hundred feet away but we had all felt it and that was our cue to run like hell away from the building we all assumed was the least safe during a storm. Not of us were harmed but my god we all had a great story about surviving lightning.
The next time lightning and I crossed paths closely I was in High School but it was during the Summer so school was the very last thing on my mind. What was on my mind was beer, and young women, so a friend of mine named Randy and I had talked two girls into going swimming with us at Factory Creek. It was an incredibly beautiful day, and we were enjoying the nice if not too hot weather when suddenly a cloud formed right above us. From the time we decided to gather the beer and head towards the car, it was storming down rain. No sooner had we left than the heavens opened up, and the lightning fell almost as quickly. A downed tree blocked our path, so Randy and I got out to move it. I lifted one end, Randy got the other, and suddenly there was a great flash of bright white light, and I felt randy’s end of the tree fall. When I could see again he was gone. My first thought was ‘Oh my god, Randy has been vaporized!” I looked at the car and he was in the backseat frantically waving for me to get my ass in the damn car. We backed up and went the other way. Ten minutes later the sky was totally clear.

A friend of mine named Steve carried the same congenital heart defect as his older sister and he was not looking forward to having it fixed. It cost his sister the better part of ten grand to have the defect repaired, and he was going to wait until he got a job with insurance before he gave it a go. Steve worked installing ductwork for heat pumps, and while he was under a house one day lightning hit nearby, and the charge ran under the house via the ductwork. Steve said he was bounced like a rubber wall between the ground and the metal ductwork for a couple of seconds, and then blacked out. He came too when the owner of the house came home and began to yell at the crawlspace opening to see if anyone was still under there. Steve crawled out looking like death warmed over, and the owner called an ambulance. At the hospital, Steve told them about his defect, but as they looked for it, they couldn’t find it at all. The lightning had cured his heart defect, totally. From anyone else, I might have looked at this story with no small amount of suspicion, but Steve was not only singularity honest, but he also had some very odd things happen to him. I will tell you a story one day about his daughter, and leave any conclusions to as to what happened up to you. I will tell you the truth as I know it to be true, and anything else, well, that’s up to you.

All of these lightning stories come from watching a storm approach tonight from the north. It was a massive and incredible thing. The full moon shone brightly to the South of us, but the storm soon sent out low level clouds scurrying towards us, blocking Her light. Flashes of lighting, streaks of lightning, bolts of lights, lit up the clouds as if a thousand storm giants were at war. All breath of breeze died as if the earth Herself was holding Her breath at such power. A weird sort of pre-storm fog developed, humid and hot like the breath of some animal that bore down upon us and even the machinery seemed muted. We waited for the storm.
High above us, and to the north, the storm came, and lightning raged from one massive formation to the next. The wind picked up, as if it too were fleeing this monster. I stood in the dark, at three in the morning and watched the lighting and I felt incredibly small, and powerless. Yet the cloud reminded me of my own brain, with its own lightning flickering around the grey masses and formations. There, with that both, yes, that one there, is the memory of my first kiss, and there that one, and my hand swats away a fly, and that one there, the big one that lit up the sky, that’s the one when I think of you, still, though we are not speaking anymore.

Batty: I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I've watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain. Time to die.

And as I watched, the storm slowly stopped its fireworks, and the wind stopped down again. The scudding clouds left to reveal the full moon again. The rain pattered down with a few weak drops, and the storm, which had sprung up in no time at all, as if it were human, simply died.

Take Care,


  1. Mike, when you read this on Facebook, it shows your bio, which might make someone think it's something they've read before?

    When we were in Wilmington not far from Xenia during their big tornado in, I think '72? I had to go in and out of the basement to do things. Once when I went out there were these weird lights in the air all around me, in all sorts of colors.... I was captivated. Unfortunately, I heard later that the phenomenon is usually something that happens immediately before a strike right there where you are standing. Fortunately this did not happen, I think perhaps because we had a lightning rod on the house.

  2. I'm still trying to figure all this blogger stuff out, Sue.

    We've had really wicked weather the last few days and it has made for interesting writing, and dangerous living.