I’m writing from the basement bedroom right now while thunder booms upstairs. The dogs are playing somewhat happily at my feet (it’s hard to tell when their form of play is biting each other’s face), though Fitz stops and looks up with concern with every particularly loud clap. Unlike his sis Tilly, who ain’t afraid of nothin’, Fitz isn’t big on rain.
I, on the other hand, am firmly in the opposite camp. You could even call me a ceraunophiliac, provided I’m not standing near a tree, and the boomier and forkier the storm, the better.
In the book I’m writing, there are a few scenes with summer storms, and it’s forced me to consider what pieces of a storm are just so delicious.
There is its sound, obviously, that deep, satisfying rolling that feels as exciting as the arrival of a drum corps in a parade. And there are its visual aspects, too: the lightning when it’s spectacular, the rain pouring over the landscape, making everything shiny, greener, new.
But there is more. Have you ever, for example, come across the word “petrichor?” It means “a pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather.” Isn’t it wonderful that there is a word for it? We all know that smell too, one of pavement getting wet. Or earth.
There is the way the wind feels when the storm is close, how it cuts through the humidity and makes everything, even at your scalp, feel 10 degrees cooler. And there is even the taste of a storm. Stand outside and open your mouth and you’ll see it doesn’t just taste like water. It tastes sweet.
But more than all the ways it appeals to your senses, there is the delicious excuse that comes with a thunderstorm. Not quite as good as a blizzard, where you might even get out of work, but good enough to put off going to the grocery store. Yes, a thunderstorm gives you the go-ahead to binge-watch another episode or roll over and sleep another hour. After all, you wouldn’t want to get wet. You wouldn’t want your kids to get wet. Why make life more difficult than it needs to be?
And when you roll over or watch another episode, doesn’t the darkness from the storm make everything feel so wonderfully, wonderfully cozy? It’s as if a blanket has descended over everything blanket fort-style and your job is to just sit under it. It reminds me of when they dim the lights in a restaurant and you realize how tough it was on your eyes, how much light you were putting up with, and how soothing it is now.
In my view, the best place for a thunderstorm is when you’re at the cabin, at a lake, preferably, so you can watch its arrival. Inside the cabin, everything smells smokier and woodier than it usually does. Suddenly, you’re in the mood to play a board game or even rummy or Crazy Eights. Someone puts out a bowl of ripple chips and onion dip and you drink a can of Coca Cola Classic to quench your thirst. You laugh at your brother because he’s the funniest.
Basically, it’s like you’ve returned to 1982. Later, once everything is soggy and dripping outside, you even decide to pull out the VCR and watch Indiana Jones. Or something with Eddy Murphy or Shelley Long in it.
Anyways, the storm has now passed and I imagine it’s sunny and too hot again outside. Back to real life I go. I need to try to convince Tilly, bless her, to potty outside. The grocery store awaits. As does the bank and gas station.
But that blanket-fort sure was nice while it lasted.