March's swan song

As I parked my car at the grocery store and shut off the engine, a thread of lightning violently wove its way across the fabric of the sky. An instant later, thunder rattled as if nature's symphony was preempted by a rock 'n roll drum solo. I came across some old friends inside the store who told me that the thunder shook the building. It was close.

I smiled.

I love storms. There's something invigorating about them - a near magical quality that makes me feel alive. Inclement weather and other acts of God are my fountain of youth.

In the Inaugural Day storm of 1993, my dad and I went for a walk around the neighborhood; we watched the fireworks of blown transformers unnaturally light up the skies around us. I leaned back with all of the weight my scrawny 14 year old self contained and allowed the force of wind to hold me upright.

During the seasonal flooding, my dad and I would often approach the swollen banks of the Snohomish, Stillaguamish, and Skagit Rivers to witness first hand the mighty and destructive power of roaring waters. I still remember that sense of awe seeing the familiar sunken under rising and uncontrollable torrents.

One 4th of July, I went swimming in a friend's pool during a thunderstorm. Although, in hindsight, that wasn't my brightest moment. Later that summer while visiting family in Cheyenne, tornado sirens started sounding. Instead of going to the basement with everyone else, my cousin Joel and I headed outside to play catch.

When an earthquake struck during our final dress rehearsal of Neil Simon's Rumors, people told me I was the calmest person around. Classmates that wouldn't normally talk to me were coming to me for comfort.

When the German Club's tour bus was trapped by an avalanche returning home from from Leavenworth's Christmas tree lighting festival I was the happiest passenger on board. That was one of the highlights of my senior year.

I even tried to go storm chasing while living in Sioux Falls, but I accidentally left the car windows down before the storm hit. As I drove off in the direction of reported funnel clouds, the windows fogged up so badly that I couldn't see anything more than a car-length in front of me. In lieu of my plans, I sheltered at a Walmart to get dinner and headed back home. I eventually got to see a tornado the following summer; I was DJing for a wedding and stepped outside in time to watch a twister drift by a little more than a mile away. The bride and groom inside were blissfully unaware of the wrath and fury outside the rented dance hall.

I love storms.

I know that not everyone shares my fervor when it comes to experiencing natural disasters. The recent landslide in Oso is a reminder that nature is more than sunshine and roses. It is nurturing but vengeful. It is beautiful but dangerous. Every raw display is a potential for tragedy.

And last night, I was reminded of one other life that does not agree with my love of storms. My daughter.

She's scared of loud noises. And last night was full of loud noises. A mix of rain and hail poured from a seamless and darkened leaden sky. Wind whipped the hail against every heard surface. Thunder rolled long and unavoidable. Runoff pooled in parking lots and roadways like a blunt reminder that Noah opened in theaters this weekend.

While I might have found last night's natural theatrics a fitting farewell to the month of March, I know that today was the kind of day my daughter prefers. A gentle warmth and baby blue skies decorated with cotton ball clouds.

This month was true to the saying, in like a lion and out like a lamb. It's probably better that way.


  1. I'll bet it was comforting to your daughter to have a dad who wasn't afraid and could make her feel safe.

    1. Unfortunately she wasn't with me. She was on my mind though. Thank you for your kind words.