Friday, June 12, 2009


Thunder is the sound of hope to me, of change and relief. It doesn't always work out, but usually thunder comes with rain and cooler air, blustery squally air, breathable bug-free air.

And so it was in August 1977 that with the death of my father and the unfathomable ways of my neighbor came blessed thunderstorms.

They heralded fall, and school days, and goats in heat. But more than anything, to me, they heralded hope.

I had made it through another summer, and though more hot days would visit us, they would not stay. There would be no more relentless stretches of misery.

Thunder also heralded watermelons from the garden, and a harvest of corn, which was waiting for us as we got back from the funeral.

And soon the squashes would be ready, and the potatoes big enough to dig for.

Life was good. The trials of spring and summer were yielding to the turn of the seasons, and I was filled with such optimism that I couldn't help but stand out on the porch and breathe deeply.

I searched the maples for signs of color and found tell-tale yellows dappling the abundance of green in their crowns as if the sun were shining on them.

But there was no sun. It was gone behind roiling black clouds that fulfilled the thunder's promise. I ducked back inside as huge drops soaked the porch in moments.

I shivered with delight and a welcome chill, and watched the barn disappear behind a sheet of steel that connected the silvered earth with the steely skies. The children poured in soaked and huddled with me, their puddles mingling with mine till the kitchen was flooded. The thunder rolled and rolled and rolled. The lightning smashed against us, bringing the dogs to tremble against our legs. We sighed and shivered until we were actually cold, then ran for towels and dry clothes. The thunder rolled away.

The garden leaned. The beans looked beaten, and the potato vines dashed to a pulp.

But then the sun came out, the air dried out, and the garden righted itself. It was time for harvest. Summer would no longer press against us with its thick white air and too bright yellow light. Tomorrow when the furrows were no longer filled with rain, we would reach into the ground and gather the goodness.

Our reward was a upon us. My hope was fulfilled.


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