Thursday, September 1, 2016

These Old Walkin' Shoes: Lazy Lightning

This week’s “Walkin’ Shoes” has less to do with walking and much more to do with driving. Yes, I know it seems like this goes against everything that the name “Walkin’s Shoes” implies, but I think it’s a pretty good exception for this week. Since I run the website, I guess I can write it any way I want. So, if you’re still interested in the nonsense that my mind has culled forth today, please keep on reading. If you’re not, read along anyway. You might be surprised.

We had a pretty big lightning storm roll through here Sunday afternoon. There was a tremendous amount of lightning, and bone-jarring cracks of thunder. It was relentless for about a half hour. We happened to be out on the road, heading to a pool party, when the worst of it hit. We were on Groff Road, just east of the Day Road Bridge when I decided to pull over to watch the storm.

I must first explain that two of my children are deathly afraid of thunderstorms. If there is even a hint of a rumble in the sky at night, we have guests sleeping on the floor of our bedroom. To be fair, they do come by this naturally. I had the very same problem when I was a kid. Once I moved into the basement of our house, I got much better about it. Down there, you really couldn’t hear what was going on. Now that I’m married and have kids, I’m not nearly as skittish about it as I used to be, although rushing to get the cushions in when there’s lightning still makes me anxious.

There were streaks of lightning crisscrossing the skies above Lockport and relentless thunder. The rain came hard, and the water in the canal, in an effort to keep up with the downpour, was flowing quicker than normal. There was a lot of rain in a very short amount of time.

One of the most interesting things that I saw during the storm was on the other side of the canal, west of Day Road. There was what looked like an orange ball of light rolling along the towpath for about five seconds before dissipating and disappearing. Considering the distance I was from it and the relative ease with which I could see it, I would approximate its size as being 18-24 inches in diameter. It was definitely one of the stranger things I’ve seen during a storm.

While we were sitting on the side of Groff Road for the storm, we saw a pair of bicyclists huddled under the protection of the bridge. Considering it was a metal bridge, it may not have been the wisest of choices, but it did keep them dry. Wendy was concerned for them, so I drove over to that parking lot on the north side of the bridge. My lovely wife ran into the rain to see if they needed a ride anywhere. They refused. However, despite that Wendy had been in the actual rain for only about 15 seconds, her clothes were completely soaked through.

We’ve been in dire need of rain all summer. We sure got a lot of it in a short period of time, and most of it ran off rather than soak into the ground. We could have used that amount of rain in a day-long shower to best help. Luckily, we did get some rain Wednesday morning. And there was only a little bit of lightning and thunder to accompany it. Of course, it was just enough to send two little girls scurrying into our room.

It was kind of fun to sit with the family and watch Mother Nature release her summer fury on the world around us. After a summer of wicked heat and not much rain, you had to know that when it finally broke, it was going to be a doozy. It sure was worth the price of admission, and it had the added benefit of spending a little more time with the family. Patience was nervous about the car being struck by lightning, but other than than, there were a lot of “oohs” and “ahhs” from the back seats.

The best part of the rain? Well, that would be the abundance of veggies coming out of the garden. Those plants suck up every drop of water they can get. The bad news? So does the lawn. We’ve been lucky in that we haven’t had to mow very much. I think that part of our summer is over. As we head into the waning months of summer, I think we’ll be firing up the mower more often than we have so far. Already it looks like we need to mow. I’m not complaining, though. I don’t have to shovel it.

Craig Bacon is not a storm chaser but he could see why some people would want to be.