I was five, and vacationing at the cottage with my family, Leah hadn't been born yet. The day was hot and still without a breath of wind. Cicadas buzzed but the birds were silent. Nicole and I spent the day toddling around in the shallow, warm water. At dinner we ate quietly, sticking to our chairs, too hot to talk or laugh.
Suddenly, the leaves began rustling. A low, dark cloud was rising on the horizon over the lake. A cool breeze blew through the open windows, clearing out the stagnant air and replacing it with sweet freshness. I remember running out onto the porch with my dad and letting the wind lift my sweaty hair off my neck and forehead. The wind grew stronger, and the sky darkened to black. Thunder rumbled in the distance and lightning flashed. Rain began pelting the hot, dry earth. My dad became serious. He made me go back inside.
The happy welcoming of the cooler weather was gone. Water starting leaking through the windows and my mom rushed to get towels. The power went out. My dad came in from outside, soaked, and calmly told my mom to take Nicole and I to the back bedroom. The boat was getting smashed against the dock and he had to go try and save it. I was scared now, and didn't like the idea of my dad being out in the storm.
We heard a painful yell from outside. My heart dropped and little Nicole started crying. We thought dad had been struck by lightening, turns out he dropped the boat ladder on his foot, but we were terrified nonetheless. Finally he came back inside and murmured something to my mom. She nodded, and calmly took Nicole and I by the hands and led us to the side door. "Girls, we're going to the neighbours. They have a basement." I didn't know then that there had been tornado sightings in the area.
My dad ran ahead carrying Nicole to start the car. My mom carried me. I remember the roaring of the wind and the cold, stinging of the heavy rain. My dad drove quickly down the gravel lake road to my aunt and uncle's cottage, where my parents rushed us into safety. Their cottage was built stronger than our summer home. My heart pounded as the thunder shook the windows and the lightening lit the room. But we were safe here, and eventually, curled up on my mom and soothed by their quiet talking, I fell asleep.
I think that night was the beginning of my strange, emotional views on thunderstorms. I am 21 years old now, but my heart still pounds with nervous excitement when a storm rolls in. Especially on hot, still days. It's a mixture of nostalgia, longing for when I believed that my mom and dad could protect me from anything, and irrational dread. Dread that a tornado will destroy the house and kill the people I love, dread that a tree will collapse on my car, dread that lightning will strike and start a fire… being electrocuted by lightning through an outdoor water tap a few years ago didn't help my anxiety, neither did the fatal tornado that ripped through a town close to mine last summer.
The warm weather inspired me to write this blog, thunderstorm season is fast approaching. So pardon me if we're ever together during one of these times. I will slightly panic, and I will cling to you with cold, clammy hands. Apologies in advance.
Does anyone else get like this or is it just me? Let me know your thunderstorm stories in the comments below. :)