Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
by Sally Tilbury
No one delights in a Midwestern thunder storm more than children. Hot, humid nights of July and August sent my two older brothers and me out of our stifling bedrooms and into the upstairs hallway in front of the screened porch. That night, we draggd our pillows behind and argued as to whose turn it was to lie in front of the door where we might catch a breeze. We flopped on the floor thinking a storm might arrive at any moment. Had we chosen to open the screen door the mosquitoes would have eaten us. They thrive on young flesh in the humid air of summer nights. They should be the state bird of Minnesota.
A scary wind swept over us followed by a huge crash. Startled, we snatched up our pillows and ran for our bedrooms. This little sister threw the covers over her head and waited ‘til the lightning would strike again, lighting the sky and making the room like daylight. The brothers knew how to count between strikes. They would begin to count, "one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand," in a steady cadence and when they arrived at "five-one-thousand" and the lightning struck again, they knew the center of the storm was five miles from us--or so they said. Older brothers are often full of blarney. I could not do the math. When the older boys grew up and left home I found that some of the facts and figures they told me years ago were, in fact, true. At five or six years of age I tried to ignore them.
A few more scary bangs and a few more flashes of lightning and then the soothing rain began. I peeked to see the curtains in my bedroom float gracefully, billowing almost to the ceiling. The elm tree in front was swaying with the wind. Its topmost branches bent and swooped round and round like a ballerina's skirt. First had come the warning wind, then the thunder, then lightning, the rain, and then Dad. He came into each room to say everything was all right and to close each window with a decisive thump. He was an "in charge" Dad. As long as Dad was in the room, I knew everything was okay.
Sally Tilbury has lived in Sonoma County since 1990, and enjoys writing from her current home in Santa Rosa.
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