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Lightning lament

July 19, 2012 - Betsy Bethel
I loathe lightning. A distant thunderstorm or that fascinating and innocent heat lightning (or is it called sheet lightning? We always argued about that as kids) — no problem. But if it's flashing and cracking close to home, you can be sure that I'd rather be somewhere far from any windows or doors with a blanket over my head. I don't do that, though, because I don't want my 6-year-old to be scared, nor do I want her to see me a whimpering, blubbering mess.

If I'm in a car, it's much, much worse. If I'm driving, I might pull over until the storm passes. Or I'll just be as twitchy as a squirrel on espresso, gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles, eyes frantically searching the skies for funnel clouds and more impending doom. Like I was yesterday driving through the late afternoon storm in western Washington County.

I come by my fear honestly. My dad was struck by lightning and nearly died when I was just a baby. I grew up hearing the story. Then I moved to the Tampa Bay area in my adolescence, also known as the Lightning Capital of the U.S. Although, see the link at right for a recent article disproving that claim. A year or so after we moved there, a girl a few years older than I got struck walking to her mailbox to pick up the mail and never walked or spoke again. A large photo on the front page of today's paper shows a house in Mount Olivet set ablaze by a lightning strike. I shudder to think of it.

If you or your children are like me and don't like lighting and thunderstorms, check out this great article by Heidi Maness Hartwiger, who writes a series called Natural Parent, Natural Child for the OV (Ohio Valley) Parent Magazine. The link is at right. Her latest installment, in the July/August issue, points to some cute books to help kids through storms. My favorite is "Thunder Cake," in which the matriarch starts setting out bowls, pans and ingredients for a special cake when the thunder starts rolling. The cake is only baked when there's a thunderstorm. Maybe that could help me, too.

I'm not the only one in my household who dislikes storms. My mother's dog, Molly, is currently in residence, and you know a storm is coming (even 10 miles away) because Molly hides behind the couch and starts to shake. She apparently has no qualms about being a bad example for our puppy, Dashi! Molly has a garment known as a "Thunder Shirt," though, which seems to work. It's a tightly fitting cloth that wraps around her middle and helps her feel more safe and secure. Maybe that's what I need, instead of a blanket!

These storms lately have been lighting and thunder extravaganzas, haven't they? A whole lot of to-do causing lots of destruction and mayhem with very little of what we and our gardens really need — good, soaking rain.

Well, looking out my window at the office right now, it looks like I will need to stop at the store for some eggs so I can try out a Thunder Cake tonight. Better not make it chocolate, though, so Molly can have some, too.

 
 

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