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Anderson: Storms - Could it be just the angels bowling?

Anderson: Storms - Could it be just the angels bowling?

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Our home is near the edge of some woods, where the trees are tall.

We don’t have much of a view, but looking out and over the garage roof there is a wedge of sky that we can see. We are happy for that view, to see storms building up, and sometimes, a rainbow.

This afternoon, as it was getting darker and threatening rain, we moved to the porch to lean on the railing and wait. It wasn’t long before we spotted bands of rain approaching, driven at an angle by the wind.

The advance of the front edge of the storm was obvious when it reached the tree line. Previously stationary limbs started swaying, stems whipped back and forth. A few leaves ripped off to swirl away.

(I like to think that the trees are dancing when it storms. Happy, excited movements, boogying in the wind. Indeed, were they not fixed to the ground, I imagine they would pick up their skirts and whirl away, ballerina style. In a violent wind, they are terrified children, ready to run.)

Lightning bolts illuminated the sky, stretching from cloud to earth (that is, behind the garage roof!). Often it was just a flash, like when you flip a light switch quickly on then off. Thunder quickly followed. It was sometimes immediate, the kind of bass drum sound that vibrates your insides. Other times it was a low spreading rumbling, with an echo that goes on and on.

They say you can tell how far away the lightening is by counting seconds between the flash and the sound, and then divide by five. I tend to forget that formula, but when lightning flashes with simultaneous thunder, it’s too close!

I respect storms, especially lightening. I’ve seen where it struck a tree and blew off a strip of bark from the top down to and along the roots, tearing up the Earth as it traveled. We know of someone who was on the phone when lightening hit outside, and she was blown across the room when the powerful charge followed the phone line.

Yet, storms don’t really frighten me. I like to sit on the porch to watch them. When the breeze blows the rain on me, that’s OK. My senses turn on - touch for the cold droplets, while smelling ozone from the lightening.

Storms remind me of my father. When I was young teen, he and I were watching a storm when we heard a long and deafening roll of thunder. Perhaps he sensed my anxiety. He said not to worry, that sound was just the angels bowling in heaven. Even though it’s not true, the thought is comforting still.

Storms also remind me of Oscar, our dachshund from years past. He’d like to sit on the front porch with us during storms. We weren’t concerned about him running since he avoided getting wet.

During one rain shower, he started anxiously pacing back and forth, sniffing between the floorboards and whining. Suddenly, a cat went racing out from underneath. Right behind the cat sprinted Oscar – in the rain.

Even now when we’re on the front porch when it storms, we think of Oscar – and smile. While the wind blows, the lightning strikes, and the thunder booms, we are without concern. After all, it’s just the angels bowling!

Susan Anderson lives in Opelika with her husband. Contact her at

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