I was terrified of thunderstorms as a kid, especially after we moved to our house in Connecticut, which had lightning rods on both the house and the huge old oak tree on our property. These rods actually attracted the lightning to the house and then into the ground for safety, so we were always getting hit and it was very LOUD.
One day there was a storm and I was walking down the stairs from my bedroom. Suddenly lightning hit the fuse box outside the house exactly where I was on the stairs. It was deafening and frightening and after that I was more scared than ever.
And as if that weren’t enough, our Springer Spaniel Sam was afraid of thunderstorms, too. He was essentially and outdoor dog, and when there was a storm he’d run round and round the house, barking like mad and scratching at the front door to get in. We’d finally let him in and he’d nearly wag his tail off in relief.
In the summertime when we were vacationing on Seneca Lake in New York state, there were lots of storms. During one of them I was out in an aluminum rowboat with my sister Bertie and my cousins and I was sure we were going to get struck by lightning. I reasoned that if the boat was metal, surely the lightning would head straight for it! It didn’t, and we got in safely, but I mentally chalked up one more reason why thunderstorms gave me the jitters.
One day in Connecticut, my sister, mother and I were visiting our neighbor Mrs. Moore when a violent storm hit. We waited inside the house until it seemed to have stopped, and then Ma said goodbye and got up to leave, with me and Bertie tagging behind. As soon as she opened the door and stepped outside, a big lighting bolt came down right in front of her and struck the ground. Yikes! Ma wasn’t hurt, miraculously, but we all stood there trembling and it took us quite some time to calm down.
Funny thing, I always thought Ma was really brave because she seemed to be totally unafraid of storms and chided me and Bertie for being so nervous about them. But after the incident at Mrs. Moore’s I realized she’d always been afraid of them, too, but had tried to keep up a good front so that we wouldn’t be afraid. She gave herself away, I now realize, by constantly talking about ways to protect ourselves and the things in our house from lightning (Never go barefoot! Unplug all the appliances in the house! The safest place in a lightning storm is in the car because you’re sitting on rubber tires! And on and on…). Even though I eventually got over my fear, Bertie followed those instructions to the letter at the first thunderclap for the rest of her life.
Are you or have you ever been afraid of thunderstorms?