Growing up in rural New Hampshire, when we’d hear the first rumbles of thunder… My mother would turn on the scanner to listen to the dispatcher that dispensed the marching orders for the local fire departments, we’d track the storm based on the fire alarms that would go off in public buildings that the fire department would have to go and reset.
There would be a mad dash to unplug all electronics. The computers. The television. The stereo system. Nothing was allowed to be plugged into the wall for fear that the storm might cause a power surge within the electrical system.
Then, we’d sit in the living room and wait. We’d watch the wind bending the trees, and I’d count the seconds between the lightning and the thunder.
By the time I was a teenager, I had it down pat. I wouldn’t even need the scanner anymore to tell me where the storm was, I knew the usual pattern and could hear whether the storm was going to hit us or go just to the north or just to the south based on the way the thunder reverberated off the hills. Not wanting to give up my precious computer time, I’d wait as long as possible before the inevitable required power down.
As I’ve gotten older, and I’ve moved to the city… I’ve become self-conscious about my instinct to have the world stop to let the storm pass, to want to shut off the computer and just watch (and besides… there is nothing fucking cooler than watching a storm roll in from a high rise… what’s wrong with you people? WHY AREN’T YOU WATCHING NATURE’S TELEVISION!).
I’ve also found out that most people’s mothers weren’t as totally neurotic about unplugging electronics as mine was.
As the storm rolled in today, I didn’t unplug… but I stopped working, because you know what? I still believe that thunderstorms are nature’s way to stay stop what you’re doing for a minute and just be in the moment.