Lightning stormed

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, July 9, 2014 10:20 PM

The summer drolls are here. That’s what I call that time when the days melt into the nights, when the television shows all seem to be much the same. Pretty people saving the world. I enjoy seeing the world saved; we’re enjoying shows likes 24 again. But by 10:45 we were bored and Kevin was starting to fade. We decided to head to bed, to fall into a drolling sleep while the ceiling fan swirled around air-conditioned air. I took Cooper outside. The air was thick and cooling. By the time Cooper and I got into the bedroom, Kevin was already in bed and sleeping. I switched on the television just for white noise as I brushed my teeth and readied myself to join my husband.

Cooper had crawled onto his new bed and he was snoring as well. The television was droning on – I think it was the end of Covert Affairs. I vaguely remember Piper Perabo and her inappropriate shoes. Pretty shoes to be sure; but heels and running, jumping and spinning while shooting a gun aren’t truly compatible. I turned off the television before the show was over, twirled the blinds closed, turned off the light and flopped down onto the bed.

As I do so often, I stayed on the fitted sheet, the top sheet and comforter pushed to the side. I needed to cool down. The drolls were roiling. I was staring at the ceiling. Suddenly there was a flash. I thought for a minute there was something wrong with my eyes. Another. Perhaps there was something misfiring in my brain. Another still. I turned my eyes toward the door that leads out onto the patio and watched. Within seconds there was another flash, this time more from the direction of the window.

I got up, went to the window and peered through the blinds. It was as if the sky had come alive. Every second or two, the clouds that had been heavy all day, the clouds directly to the north over the foothills, were illuminated. Another second or two went by and the clouds to the west flashed white. This dance between the north and the west went on. There was no thunder; the rain wouldn’t come yet for hours, something we’d find out this morning when we left to take Cooper for a walk.

I wanted Kevin to see what was happening. I had never seen anything like it, and though he’s from Chicago, where thunderstorms are regular events, this was a true phenomenon. Silent explosions in the atmosphere. But he didn’t want to wake up.

Lightning in the desert during the drolls is to be expected. During our many visits, especially in the summer, we’ve sat on the balcony of our room at the Westward Look and watched the sky dance with jags of light. Lightning is an electrostatic discharge between the electrically charged regions inside clouds, or even between a cloud and the surface of a planet.  Heat lightning is from distant thunderstorms that don’t yet have the sounds of thunder that usually accompany lightning. I think what we must have been experiencing was heat lightning.

I wandered through the house and out onto the patio, Cooper padding along behind me. Together we stood under the cover and watched the sky dance.

Last night, as the lightning stormed, quietly disrupting the night, I stood transfixed. It was magical, strangely alive, eerie and seductive. It was the atmosphere celebrating. Cooper and I were happy to be spectators.

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