This column originally appeared in The Saskatoon Express. I'll be sharing these from time to time on this, my blog site. If you get the Express, great; if you don't, I'd love for you to read these here.
Well, now. Wasn’t that a mighty storm?
From time to time, I hear people saying “Oooh, I love a good thunderstorm.” Let us, just for a moment, dissect that for those of us who just don’t understand why anyone would actually like high winds, pouring rain, hail, ear-splitting thunder and jagged electrical lines flashing across the sky.
The “oooh” part may be an expression of awe. As in “oooh, that was a big one.” Or, “oooh, that mountain sure is high” or “oooh, that man sure is handsome/woman is beautiful.”
Then we have the subject/verb phrase, “I love.” I recall a Mad Men episode in which Don Draper (about whom women often say, “oooh, that man sure is handsome”) lecturing the copywriting staff about using the word “love.” We “love” our family, friends, pets and, perhaps, our nation. We do not “love” our washing powder, toothpaste or soft drink. (I suspect some of us do “love” our cars, mind you.)
In any case, we do not “love” inanimate things, and if we truly do, we are weird. I’m willing to accept the argument, here, that thunderstorms are not exactly inanimate. Neither, however, do they have souls.
Now we arrive to the object of the thing, “a good thunderstorm.” What, pray, is a “good” thunderstorm? Does this refer to an extremely active, exciting, seemingly endless weather event? One that gets the blood raging and produces excellent photo opportunities? Does it come with hail, rain and wind in addition to the thunder?
Or, is a good thunderstorm one that behaves well, and causes no damage?
Good thunderstorm. Pat, pat. Nice thunderstorm. Please do not dent my car, break my windows or flood my basement.
In the wake of last week’s storm (and I do mean wake, since every time a car drove through the two-foot-deep lake at our intersection, it created enough wake to be a boat on a river) I’ve heard several people say, “Oooh, I love a good thunderstorm. But that one was a bit too much. Even I didn’t really love that thunderstorm.”
It was a thunderstorm. Do you love them, or do you not? Or only when they’re “good”?
I am in a different place on the thunderstorm love-hate debate. I do not love thunderstorms. I suppose I should not hate them, either, to be consistent with my theory about emotions over inanimate things. Let’s say, instead of hate, that they scare the ever-loving bejeepers out of me.
This time, I saw that baby coming over the tops of our fir trees. My husband was downtown at the gym, and wouldn’t be ready for a while yet. Then, yes, he planned to walk home, too.
Nothing doing, said I. I called him and said, “I’m on my way, if you can be ready early. It’s going to storm.”
Then all hell broke loose. The wind came up, rain started to pour and the hail hammered down. There is no way I am driving through a hailstorm. The hail finally stopped, and I got ready to leave…and it started again. We had three hailstorms in 45 minutes.
When it finally abated, I pulled out in the car, looked right, then left . . . and realized there was an enormous lake at the end of the block. Big trucks were making it through, but I have a small SUV.
I turn around and get to Broadway and Taylor, and it’s underwater, too. So I hit the freeway, and ended up driving through three enormous pools, and past three stalled vehicles. (That’s what you get if you drive through deep pools. Just saying.)
We came home and, with our neighbours, spent the next hour clearing debris out of the drains on the corner. That was fun. By 8:30 we were wet, cold, filthy and starving.
They say it was a 25-year storm. I recall one eight years ago, in which the lake at the corner crept halfway up our lot. If it hadn’t finally stopped raining that night, our house would have been under water, along with some of our neighbours. Seems to me we get a 25-year storm every eight to ten years.
This time, there were popped manhole covers, power outages, hail damage, flooded basements. An acquaintance had the stucco stripped from her home by hail. Oddly, a friend of ours on the far east side of town had nothing. “Storm? What storm?”
It was pretty exciting for some of us, though. Was it a good thunderstorm? I leave it to you to decide.