There is something awe-inspiring about thunder and lightning. As I write this in Glen Allen, the heavens have opened, warm rains and hail drive down upon the earth like bullets, and the sky is nothing less than a stereophonic cacophony of sounds effects moving from the left speaker to the right…and concentrating on the bass.
This is nothing.
There are times when I live for extremes; and there are times I’ve lived through extremes. On vacation to Disney World in 1986, we (Maria and I, my mother, and Maria’s mother and family) arrived early in the morning after having driven through the night — about 14 hours with food and bathroom breaks. It was 9 am. They wouldn’t let us have our villa until 3 pm. So we did whatever, shopped, ate, and got to the Vacation Villas in Lake Buena Vista just after 3. We immediately picked our bedrooms in the two story villa (beautiful — they’re no longer there, the bastards!) and we all took naps.
For about an hour.
Florida, starting as far north as the Orlando area, conservatively, and going south to Key West, is on a strict summertime schedule — always has been. It’s very simple:
LATE AFTERNOON: THUNDERSTORMS
ONE HOUR LATER: SUNNY AND CLEAR. Go do your bidness!
So, about a little while into our nap, we were awakened. It was the low rumble of thunder, from a good distance.
I rolled over and snoozed back into oblivi–
Thunder again. Closer.
I tried to sleep more, but Maria was stirring, too.
It boomed again, not even 20 seconds later. Louder. And again. And again. We looked out the wide glass window. Sunny, soft white clouds . . . and the room shook with meteorological explosions approaching us on a heavenly-warfare scale.
The thunder strode closer to us with the footsteps of a giant god, striding east across the central Florida plateau. The windows shook with each footfall, and we lay there in bed, sunlight spilling upon us, as the thunderous path of an unseen and powerful god of sunshine, palm trees and wild, tropical extremes walked his way toward the east coast and the beaches of the Atlantic.
That was power. That was mystery.
That was awe.
So Jim Duncan comes on with his weather updates here on Channel 12, as though these breaks in regular programming are of the direst emergencies. Hell, it’s a storm, a little rain, maybe a brown out, some wind. Get a grip, people. Storms like this are nothing — and we all know it, don’t we? — but fearmongering and playing to the masses pays off in the ratings, doesn’t it? Ratings-chasing weathermen and the viewers who are afraid of a little rain have no idea what it is to live in a land of extremes, where gods walk the earth and laugh at how insignificant we are.
Get out of town. Do something different. Go to a blues club on the wrong side of town. Walk in the rain. Scream out to the thunder, “Louder! Louder!” and laugh all the way home.
Take it easy . . . and live.