Looking back, I remember them vividly. For as long as I can recall, I was never afraid of the thunder. Quite the opposite actually; thunderstorms entranced me. Until I was twelve, I lived on Storm Mountain, Colorado, and as its name implies, storms are not uncommon there. I can still see my small hands pressed against the screen door of our doublewide, fog forming around them as lightning flashed bright purple and white. The lightning was spectacular. The way it would electrify the entire sky and penetrate the deep shadows of the forest was as incredible then as it is to me now. Although when I was young, I didn’t know what caused the rain and the claps of thunder following the streaks of lightning, the sense of wonder that they instill in me is still strong.
It was always evident when there was an impending storm. The air would crackle, and black clouds would gather formidably into dense barriers between the sky and the world beneath it. The air would grow thick, tinged with a gray-green as if the clouds were reflecting the shadows of the mountains. Then the lightning would slice through the air as if signaling the beginning of some epic battle, and the thunder would chase shortly after. To me, the thunder always sounded like a thousand boulders rumbling down the mountains towards us, and I would imagine this scene as I stood by the door and feel the floor vibrate underneath me with each new clash. At times, the thunder would echo off of the surrounding mountains so intensely that the din seemed to be never ending. The torrents of rain would then begin. As is common with children, I had a creative imagination, and I liked to think of the rain as tears of angels, washing over the earth to cleanse and refresh it. I would run to my room and open my window so I could smell the rain’s delicious scent and feel the droplets that managed to push through the window screen. I would sit, usually through the whole storm, and gaze on as the trees were freed from their film of dust, and all the colors intensified as the rain repainted them. And the mountain earth would grow even richer with rain.
As the rain subsided, my brother and I would hurry to grab our jackets and boots so we could run outside and play. Clad in bright waterproof, we were little spots of color darting around in the deep, earthy colors of the mountainside. There was a ring of huge rocks around the little meadow in which our house sat, and I especially loved climbing on these rocks after the rain. The rough rocks would grate on my hands slightly less when they were moist, and I liked to play in the pools that formed in the deep indentations in the rock. The biggest of these pools resembled a small bathtub, and I would float little pieces of bark in it, pretending they were tiny boats adrift in the ocean. After night fell, the sound of frogs in the pond near our property would lull me to sleep.
I still miss this sound as I lie in my basement apartment with only the sound of nearby traffic and pipes creaking in the walls to guide me to my dreams. I long not for the house that I grew up in, or even the mountain on which I was raised. I am now grown and struggling to survive in the real world as every adult must do, but during magnificent storms such as those of my childhood, I am able to feel that same simple childish joy. Although as I child I had no real notion of stress or worry, I still felt calm when I was outside building my forts or playing on my rocky monument. Now that I have things to worry about and stress over every day, nature has become my retreat. And when the rainclouds roll in and I get that first sense of a big storm, I am outside where I can feel the electricity buzz through the atmosphere and let the rain wash over me. Just as rain refreshes the trees and the earth, it refreshes me and inspires me not to give in to the pressures of society. This is why, to this day, the storms of my childhood are so dear to me.