The calm before the storm

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 17, 2002

There is something strangely calming in the moments before a storm. Crystalline skies become thick and rich with color and rage. Everything becomes quiet and subdued. The world holds its breath as crushed velvet clouds creep across the skyline.

Southern people, especially Alabamians, become accustomed to the ritualistic afternoon showers of late June, July and early August. Southern showers always seem to come like clock work in early evening hours of the week and rain showers are always a bit of a tease in Covington County.

I have begun to believe that consistent shower do not exist here in the southern extremities of the United States -- only scattered splashes of water. The days grow hotter with each flip of the calendar and rains come just long enough to steam up the roadways and increase the humidity.

Please do not begin to think that I am complaining because some rain is always better than no rain. I am merely pointing out some strange attributes of southern rain showers and thunderstorms.

The local little league game clears out to avoid the rain showers and moments later the skies clear up once again.

Charles E. Eldridge, pediatrician and chief of staff at Andalusia Regional Hospital, said it may not be best to follow your instincts when caught off guard by a thunderstorm.

"Many of the things your instincts tell you to do are the things that attract lightening to you," Eldridge said. "If its raining, then you want to get under a tree. You're on a golf course so you go underneath a metal shed. The best thing to do is to just get inside."

When I go inside my temptations often lead me to jump on the computer or converse on the phone, but maybe that is not such a good idea either.

I miss the days of simple pleasures. The days when it was fine to sit outside beneath an angry sky and soak up the tender flashes of light. No one really worried about being struck by lightening. At least I never really worried. I just felt blessed to witness such an awesome display of power and majesty.

I have always been amazed by the concept and presence of the commonly labeled "heat lightening." The streaks of light produce no sound or danger -- only beauty.

My strange attraction to the destructive force know as lightening may seem a bit confusing, but I do not promote the practice of watching lightening.

As Eldridge mentioned above, it is always best to go inside when a storm develops. If you find yourself caught out in the middle of

a field or teeing off on hole 9 and a thunderstorm develops, then take time to enjoy the site. Few things are as beautiful and destructive as lightening -- except maybe an angry girlfriend or wife.

Jeremy Henderson is a reporter with the Star-News.