Saturday 01 Oct 2016

Lighting Strikes
AJ Robinson

I have always been fascinated by storms. As a kid, I so wanted to see lightning, and experience a hurricane. One night I even stuck my head out a window to try and see lightning striking off in the distance. My mother pulled me back inside. Although I was disappointed, I did get the point. A moment later a strike hit near the house and I appreciated her caution. What with us living in New England, getting to experience a hurricane was a long shot; they so rarely came our way.

Yet, it was a short time later that I truly understood just how powerful lightning could be.

During one of our summers on Martha’s Vineyard, we had quite the severe storm. This was nothing special as we got storms all the time. I remember one time it rained for almost an entire week! We finally went for a drive around the island just to see what had happened to the place. Ocean Park was peppered with lakes due to the flooding, and many boats in the harbor had gone under. My dad had protected his boat, so all was well. But I digress.

This big storm started out as nothing new. In fact, the patter of the raindrops on the roof was quite soothing. I always loved going to sleep listening to that sound. Yet, this storm kept getting bigger and more intense. The rain was driving, the wind howled. I could hear the maple and oaks rustling against the house. Flashes of lightning lit up the moonless night like midday. The thunder exploded and echoed across the sky. I’d learned the trick of figuring out how far away the lightning was: counting the seconds between the flash and the noise.

This night they came right on top of each other!

Yeah, a mighty storm, and I was too tired to stay up and watch the fun. Then came a huge kaboom, not merely a flash and bang, and I almost shot out of my bed. What in the world had happened? My mother heard it as well and came to check on me. As always, her words and deeds were the perfect comfort to a small boy who needed them, yet would never admit it!

Come the morning we saw the aftermath of the storm. For the most part, it was the usual stuff: mud puddles and ponds for us to play in, much to the consternations of our mothers, a few downed branches, and some assorted debris. Yet, there was one added element: bits and pieces of shingles and siding. My friends and I were mystified until we moved out into the open area of Trinity Circle. That was where the Tabernacle and a church stood.

The church steeple had been struck by lightning. It was a mess, and its remnants were strewn as far as the eye could see. It took most of the rest of the summer, but the necessary repairs were finished. As for the bits and pieces, we were finding them for months.

After that, I never again tried to go out in a thunderstorm. I had a new-found appreciation for the power of Good Old Mother Nature. If a bolt of lightning could do that to a church steeple, I could only imagine what it’d do me!

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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