Perhaps it was my sheer ignorance as a kid, but I don’t think thunderstorms ever really scared me. This is, assuming the fact I was safe inside the house, of course. Storms rarely ever came around Stevinson, so naturally they became an object of my fascination. Thunderstorms carry some great memories for me. Right now, a storm is brewing outside. This is why I’m sitting on my small balcony for the first time since I arrived in Wisconsin. I’m sure the folks passing by in cars think I’m crazy, but sitting inside just wasn’t doing the storm justice. Besides, the storm makes me happy and makes me miss my family a little less. Allow me to explain.
As a kid, whenever we’d spot lightning, whoever was in the house would gather to watch the storm from the window with the best view. I can even remember waking up in the middle of the night to watch a stunning light show with Mom. But the best part of a thunderstorm was a power outage. This would typically happen a couple times a year and we’d all gather in the living room, turn on the kerosene lamps (which Mom kept on hand and ready) and spend time as a family. Granted, we always spent evenings as a family, but something about adding sensory deprivation to the mix made it much more special.
If the storm hit before dinnertime, and the call to the electric company determined the power would be out for some time, Mom or Dad would run into town and pick up food, usually Chinese. I of course, being the finicky eater I was as a kid, usually stuck to something bland, like a jelly sandwich (still not a peanut butter fan). After dinner, our options were to play cards, break out a board game or read. Since these evenings actually turned out to be fun, Kristen and I would ask Mom and Dad if we could “play” power outage on purpose from time to time.
Power outages did carry their fair share of inconveniences, of course. For instance, since our water supply ran off an electric well, we wouldn’t have water when the power went out. This meant no showers or running the tap. If power went out at the dairy in addition to the house, we’d have to go start the generator and pray that it was in proper condition to power the milk parlor, otherwise Dad would be at the dairy until it was fixed or the power came back on. This task could take all night, and did on a few occasions. Selfishly, I didn’t want him to miss family time, of course, so I always prayed the generator was in proper working order.
News outlets are calling this summer one of the driest ones on record. Farmers, and the crops they grow, are suffering all across the country. Growing up on a farm, and knowing how important the corn crop is, it’s hard not to be physically ill when driving down the road and witnessing the damage first hand. We are only feeling the beginning effects of this drought. There will eventually be a trickle through the industry and on to consumers. We certainly haven’t seen the last effects of this drought.
I know rain is in the thoughts and prayers of many people right now—it’s certainly in mine—and I can’t help but count this storm as a response, no matter how what the final measure on the rain gauge may be. I know this drought is far from over, but a little rain has a funny way of renewing hope and revitalizing us. Let’s just pray more rain comes. Not just here, but for all the farmers feeling the effects of this dry spell. I'll also be praying for a little bit of safe thunder and lightning to accompany.