I didn’t realize until I was an adult that my mother is terrified of thunderstorm. When we lived in Stewartstown Hollow, known as the Holler, in NH, we were three miles from the center of town, which was hardly more than a huddle of buildings. However we did have neighbors that in sight, the Flanders across the road and the Goulds just the other side of our gardens. My mother claims that on bad thunderstorms she could see the lightening dance along the exposed lead pipes in our house. But I knew none of this as a child.
I’m seven. It’s summer. My four year old brother Paul, and I are sitting on the porch. Yep, we are together. We are huddle in the blanket. It’s grown cold. The thunderstorm is approaching. We are entranced.
From inside my mother’s voice, “You boys come in here! It’s going to rain and you’ll get soaked” “Okay Mom, we’ll be right in,” I yell back. I have no intention of going in, of missing this. We watch the edge of the storm approach across the field, cross the cemetery on the other side of the road and then….. we are engulfed!
We have a tin roof. Rain on a hot tin roof will beat a cat on a hot tin roof any day, no disrespect, Mr. Williams. I love the pounding, the thunder made even louder. What a show, what sound effects! “I told you boys to get in here. Don’t make me come out there!” “Yeah, we’ll be right in.” We huddle deeper into the blanket, misted sprinkles dampening our faces.
On the hillside, across the field, no more than two hundred yards away lightening and thunder arrive together. There is a smoking hole where it struck! Whew-ooo!
Suddenly there she is at the door. Oh Lord, we’re in for it now. “Run, Paul!” We are over the railing in a single hop, into the lightening storm. And Mom, fueled by her fear is in a rage, right on her heels. We take off running around the house. I’m in the lead, Paul is doing his valiant best but can’t keep up, and Mom is after him.
In my head the voice of reason speaks, “She WILL catch us. But, think… She is in such a rush. The person she catches first will get just a few whacks with her hand. The one she catches last is really in for it.” I slow down. Triumphantly Paul zooms by me. And then Mom is on me. “No Mom, I’m sorry. I won’t do it again!” Whack, whack, whack. Her hands are drenched in the rain and pretty much glance off my butt. Then she’s off after Paul.
I run in the opposite direction. Here comes Paul towards me. “Run Paul! You can do it but she’s almost caught you.” He’s tearing it up, vanishes around the corner. My mother zooms by me gaining on my brother. Half a minute. I’m walking back. Here he comes again, breathing hard, fading fast. I shout encouragement to his dying effort, “Faster! She’s” I shut up. She’s round the corner. Half way down the back stretch she’s on him. Whack, whack, whack. I hear a medley, “Don’t you ever. Mom, no! If you ever… whack, whack, whack. More thunder and lightening.” Ah life is good when you are just a boy. I love the rain!