Monday, July 7, 2008
There are many forms of thrill seeking. Some flock to the movie theatre to immerse themselves in spectacular CGI, others glue themselves to on-line games. Me, I won't even ride a roller coaster, but call me outside when a storm is coming, and I'll be there. I am awestruck by a power that can lay the works of man low, break dams, blow power lines, turn a pine plantation into match-sticks. Fear and fascination merges into something akin to worship in the face of a thunderstorm. I love the smell of rain(*), moist and wet. I love the sound of thunder, deep and sonorous. I love the flash of lightning, blue and brilliant. I love watching black billowing clouds rolling in dragging sweeping tails of rain in their wake.
I've never seen a tornado in the literal sense, but one dark and stormy night (sorry, couldn't resist that line) I saw the sky glow with brilliant emerald green light and stay that way for minutes. The next day, in the Eldred King Woodlands, I found a long strip of forest had been turned into a twisted mass of broken trees. My guess is that the green glow was caused by continuous lightning glowing through the heart of a tornado (this was July 2006). Green skies, it turns out, of any kind (except at sunset) spells trouble, as it indicates huge quantities of water held suspended in the air by high winds.
On June 15th of this year, my husband and I might have seen a mesocyclone as we both noticed a weird isolated cloud that looked smooth and circular and burnished like a kettle, somewhat like an upside down thunderhead. Since we didn't know it at the time, we didn't take cover and honestly, if we had known what we were looking at, we probably would have 'oooohed' and 'ahhhhed' all the more.
Lest you think we are crazy: if we hear serious official storm warnings (ie. tornadoes imminent), we do take precautions (like locking the pets in the basement and then racing upstairs to watch the show), but on June 15th we missed the warnings and watched in complete naive innocence. It was a beauty, until buckets of rain drove us indoors. Then, from the window, we watched the trees lashing back and forth like grass in a breeze.
And, for the record, I am afraid of thunderstorms, but they're just so gosh darned exciting that I can't help myself when I get a chance to watch them.
(*) Does anyone really know what ozone smells like? In novels I've read "the smell of ozone in the air" a kazillion times to describe an electric storm, but I still haven't a clue. Storms smell like rain to me.
Image: Coloured pencil on 11" x 14" Bristol. Originally conceived on June 15th beneath spectacular skies, at long last finally finished. I did not include the possible mesocyclone because, as described, it looked smooth and round and rather boring compared to the twisty storm clouds.