The Lightning in the Rainbow

August 22, 2009

It is suddenly storm season in my part of the world.

Every couple of days, sometimes more often, big, strident, Old Testament thunderstorms have stomped through, flooding basements, downing trees, darkening whole neighborhoods and just generally smiting and smoting like nobody’s business.

Well, the garden is happy, and the creek is higher than it usually is this time of year.

Mid-August here in south-central Pa. is typically hot, humid and rainless. I’ve seen the creek so dry by this time of the summer that the fish were taking sponge-baths and my watermelons were the size of baseballs and had similar flavor.

So, I grudgingly admit, the rain is at least provisionally welcome.

That is, it’s getting to be a pain in the butt.

My truck doesn’t have A/C, which means when I’m out in a storm I have to close all the windows and just sort of stew in the stale air.

I have an umbrella and a good, bright yellow rain parka. They are inevitably locked up, safe and dry, in the truck, because if it is not raining when I get out of the truck, I don’t give them a thought. It’s the sort of thing that makes me think I should have had special teachers in school, if you take my meaning.

So, Friday, working on a long story that wasn’t showing any signs at all of helping me write it – some stories practically write themselves, you know – all hell broke loose overhead. I jumped online and called up PennDOT’s traffic camera website and took a peek at what the cameras were seeing.

To the north, east, and south, the view was pretty much…not much. All I could see was a few sets of headlights, nothing else. No road, no discernable details on anything.

Guess where my rain gear was.

It was OK, though. By the time I had beaten the story into a semi-readable condition the storm had raged on and was kicking the crap out of the Poconos.

I squeezed into the Dakota and started on the hour drive home, boring through the occasional light shower and dodging morons, keeping the grumpiness meter down on the sunny side of a full glower. It was, after all, Friday.

I was three-quarters of the way home when the rainbow appeared.

The sun had tumbled down off the edge of the cloud cover way out west, sending its beams eastward across their undersides, turning them to a bright apricot. The fresh-washed air teased the trees and cornfields, some lit gold, some in deep shadow.

Due east, the rainbow arced, vivid against black clouds over toward nightfall. Traffic slowed as drivers, including me, kept looking over to the vast curve of light refracted through raindrops. It’s easy to understand why people used to think them magical. Hell, I still do.

And then, the black boil of storm behind the rainbow cracked open with a fiery spider web of lightning, the kind that snakes briefly from cloud to cloud, painting the landscape white for a split second and then it is gone. All of it framed within that rainbow curve.

Within the cars around me, I saw people pointing, slack-jawed with wonder, or laughing. I made eye-contact with some, and we all smiled together.

It was still sprinkling a little, but I rolled my window down anyway. Suddenly, I didn’t mind the wet so very much.


© 2009 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.
Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.
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