My daughter loves to run in the rain. So with an extreme electrical storm closing in, she thinks it would be an ideal time to run. She aims to enlist Jack and me to walk/run with her. Jack is always keen for a run, storm impending or no storm impending. But me? In a storm? Naah. I tell her so. However, she guilts me into it.
I’ve been a victim of untimely electrical storm running in the past – with my daughter of course. We had set off in overcast and imminently dangerous weather. She assured me that we would make it back before it rained. But half way through the walk (which means the other half is back) a cyclone-like wind blew; heavy, tropical strength lashings of rain, lightning and thunder pelted us. My daughter and Jack ran off happily. I can’t run fast, so I cowered.
There I was, standing under a nature strip tree. Yes, that’s right, ignoring every piece of conventional wisdom about trees and lightning while tremulously courting disaster.
The woman whose tree I was using as a lightning rod came to her front door and beckoned me onto the veranda. I gratefully complied and self-consciously dripped all over her stylish tiles. She even invited me into her house to partake of a pre-prandial chardonnay as long as I took off my soggy shoes. More water was coming off me than Niagara Falls, so I graciously declined, but I thought it mightily neighbourly of her to entertain a mad, storm chasing stranger.
Eventually I bid her farewell when the eye of the storm passed. I met with more blasting of the elements before I made it to the safety of my home and Jack’s and my daughter’s eager welcome – just as the sun broke out.
So this time I am fearful. She runs off with Jack and I walk/shuffle/walk behind her. I probably do more shuffle/walk/shuffle on this walk as I continue to look to the heavens with the eye of an ancient mariner, hoping for deliverance. The clouds loom with foreboding, forming in unnatural ways.
We turn for home and the rumble of thunder grows louder. My daughter is delighting in it – bouncing off the path with the zing of a positive ion. We met another runner and her dog. They also appear to be relishing imminent doom.
As the volume of the thunder ramps up, Jack – who does not like a thunderstorm – becomes a little invigorated/fractious/crazy. He bounds insanely and takes giant leaps over imagined rivals. It becomes a race to get home before the deluge, but more importantly before we turn to cinders.
I run faster than I have for ten years and don’t care that I will use a whole tube of ice gel on my back for the privilege. My daughter is encouraging me and quoting statistics about lightning and how it doesn’t kill that many people. It means nothing as streaks of it dance and crackle too closely.
And then it happens. A cracking boom pounds the earth so close that our noses nearly bleed. It sends us quaking. Jack panics and tries to ram the nearest front door to get away and I try to follow. Rose settles me down with a reassuring hug and mocking smile.
I swear – I am not going to go out when a storm is approaching again. That is, not until next time.