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Moseyin’ Along

Mother Nature’s nighttime show

July 30, 2015
Westfield Republican

On a recent warm and breezy night, I was suddenly startled from deep sleep by a dazzling flash of light.

I caught my breath and lay still, not quite awake, wondering and listening.

Suddenly, another flash lit the darkened room with the blaze of midday. And, in the distance, the deep voice of thunder rolled across the sleeping world.

In a moment, I felt the rush of wind as it tossed the blinds. Next, I heard the first tentative tapping of raindrops on the outside patio. The sound quickly changed to a steady drumming, growing louder and louder.

I got up quietly in the still-sleeping house to close the bedroom patio door against the noise and wind. Then, I stood fascinated, looking out at the rain-swept scene.

Through it all, the lightning flashed and the thunder rolled, turning night into day and quiet into chaos.

Such demonstrations of nature's majesty always inspire me. To watch and listen as the fury unfurls is an awesome experience. The loss of a little sleep is a small price to pay to witness such power.

I've been fascinated by storms all my life. When I feel the special electrical tension in the air that precedes the tumult, I hurry to find a protected place outside. Then I watch and wait expectantly for the opening act.

I scan the sky, marveling at the towering slate-colored clouds as they race toward the horizon.

Then come the rolls of thunder and finally, those first big drops of rain, spattering at my feet, sending me scurrying inside.

Through the years, I've gathered an extensive file on the main ingredient of such noisy electrical events, namely the celestial fireworks known as lightning.

There are dozens of old sayings dealing with the brilliant flashes that cut the sky. For instance, according to Western American folklore, "Wherever lightning strikes, you will find oil."

Unfortunately, it's impossible to predict where those bolts will hit. For centuries that unpredictability has caused mankind to devise ways to channel the power of lightning and rob it of its potential for destruction. From lightning rods perched atop old barns to surge protectors for computer equipment, whole industries have sprung up in an attempt to keep lightning in its place.

In my studies of lightning, I learned that each year more than 200 people are killed by lightning strikes. One in five is hit on a golf course. And every year, lightning starts seventy percent of the forest fires in this country.

But, on the night of the recent storm, as I stood by the patio doors watching the flashes change darkness to daylight, I wasn't thinking of any of the bits of lightning information I've collected over the years. Instead, I was simply a spectator, watching and listening to the awesome power of Mother Nature as she marched across the land, proclaiming her majesty with a summer storm.



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