Bonding under a lightning-filled sky

Standing out in the yard a few minutes ago, watching flashes of lightning to the east over the mountains, reminded me of this post from a few years ago.

FRIDAY, MAY 29, 2009

Bonding under a lightning-filled sky

Last night, Katie and I were at a blues concert at a local farmers market. Just as the evening’s performance was wrapping up, I noticed an awesome lightning display beginning to light up the sky to the east.

It had been a hot day, reaching 102. Rain isn’t that common between May and September in the Central Valley, so I hadn’t even paid attention to the forecast for the evening. Usually one word — hot — covers it. But this was something special.

As we drove toward home, Katie talked to me from her car seat in the back, telling me how lightning scares her. “Oh, this won’t do,” I thought. “No child of mine should be scared of lightning.”

I love weather, the wilder, the better. I just happen to live in a place that doesn’t get that much of it. To paraphrase White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, I couldn’t let a perfectly good lightning storm go to waste.

I detoured. Instead of driving home, we went to the far eastern edge of the Clovis East High School campus, parking so the car pointed toward the orchards and foothills, which seemed to be center stage for God’s pyrotechnic light show.

I parked, turned off the car and all the lights, and let Katie snuggle in my lap. We sat there watching for about 20 minutes. The view, unobstructed by houses or street lights, was gorgeous, between alternating forky streaks that appeared to go all the way to the ground and bursts that lit up the entire cloudy sky.

When we drove home, Shayna, my 12-year-old step-daughter, met us in the front yard. I told her where we had been: “Take me,” she pleaded. So after stopping in to say hi to the other household moms and the 15-year-old, me, Shayna and Katie got back in the Prius and headed back to our storm-watching vantage point.

(Alyssa, the 15-year old didn’t want to go — once I told her she couldn’t carry on her cell-phone conversation during the excursion, she elected to stay in the air-conditioned house instead. Her loss, I think).

Things were really rolling now, with thunder, gusting winds and spitting rains joining the light show. There we sat in the dark, stormy night.

I don’t always get my moody 12-year-old, who wears tight peg-legged jeans and insists on encircling her beautiful hazel eyes with smoky rings of black eyeliner. But for a while last night, I think we got each other. We sat together, enjoying a brilliant display, uninterrupted by anything, just sharing a moment.

“Will you always remember this?” I whispered to Katie, the 6-year-old on my lap. “I will,” she replied.

Me too.


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