I took a break from the computer and was about to open the door to walk up the long driveway to the mailbox when I heard it—the menacing rumble of thunder and its warning of a storm moving in. I’d been so immersed in my work, I hadn’t noticed the storm clouds gathering and blotting out the sun. Above me, they roiled, dark and ominous.
Have I got time to get to the mailbox and back before all hell breaks loose?
I took off down the drive towards the barn, feeling the rush of adrenaline that comes when I’m a little scared, enjoying the wind picking up around me. Growing up on a farm, I always found storms a bit thrilling, especially from the safety of a screen porch. My Grandmother Herbert tried to comfort us when we heard thunder: “The thunder baby’s crying,” she explained. I haven’t been able to find the derivation for that bit of folklore except for this story from the Seneca Indian tribe about Thunder Boy.
As the storm bore down, I became acutely aware of everything around me as I snatched the mail out of the box. The sound of the wind in the pine trees had gone from soothing to menacing as I hurried back towards the house. The tree branches swayed wildly, and leaves began swirling around me. My neighbor’s rooster crowed in the middle of the day. Birds suddenly seemed to be flying towards trees and shrubs, undoubtedly seeking shelter and reminding me I should do the same.
I could smell the unique scent of summer rain even before it fell. My quick pace turned into a jog as the drops began to fall. A crack of thunder sounded close as I stepped safely into my cozy kitchen. Then the deluge began, quickly overflowing our gutters and creating waterfalls down to the patio. I’d soon know if there were any leaks in the roof.
The older I get, the more I find Nature’s gifts—be they peaceful or unsettling—connect me with the past and, often, with feelings deep inside. These natural displays of power remind me I’m not the center of the universe, and suddenly my worries and anxieties seem less important. And hidden throughout the natural world are lessons and metaphors for life. Storms blow in and disrupt our happiness, but the sun always comes out after the storm passes through, ready to dry our tears and warm the chill in our souls.
I want to remember that the next time my world seems dark and scary.
Does the sound of thunder or the change in the air of an oncoming storm bring back childhood memories or unique emotions for you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
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