Tis the season. No, not for silver bells and angel choruses. Tis the season for tornado sirens and the grating beep of the Emergency Alert System. Spring storm season. I have to admit, it’s one of my favorites. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying tornadoes are fun and hurricanes are thrilling. But, I’m a sucker for a good thunderstorm.
On the outskirts of Baton Rouge, there’s an orange brick ranch house at the top of a t-junction in a suburban neighborhood. On one side is a garage and workshop built by the hands of my daddy. Across the back of that house, only barely missed by the 40-foot pine tree that Hurricane Andrew took down, is a concrete slab patio with a wavy aluminium awning. How it didn’t go flying in Andrew, I’ll never know, but I’m glad for that. Underneath that awning were the chairs that my daddy and I used to sit in and watch the afternoon storms you could almost set your watch by.
Steamy Louisiana air would shift and swirl, getting cooler by degrees as the sky darkened. In the distance, the deep bass of thunder would roll. Bugs would find shelter and birds would get quiet letting the thunder have its solo. Beat by beat, slow at first, then faster and more insistent, the percussion of the rain on that metal awning would pound in deafening duet with the crashing thunder. We didn’t just hear it; we felt it. It rattled our bones as the electricity in the air stood the tiny hairs on our arms up. Lightning rocketed across the sky. Wind whipped a spray of fresh mist on our faces, cool and soft. Gentle contrast to the rage of the storm above us.
Slowly, the musicians would tire and the storm would calm to a delicate patter. Then, a slow drip as the final gentle rumbles faded in a soft decrescendo in the distance. The air shifted again as the sun broke through the clouds. Bugs took flight, and birds chirped their songs once more. Steam rose from the wide blades of St. Augustine grass that glittered with the drops it cradled.
Not a word was ever said by me or my daddy. We sat together in silence letting the storm have its moment, knowing nothing we said could hold a candle to the beautiful power of the storm.
So, bring on storm season and the memories of Mother Nature’s symphony.