Monday, July 2, 2012


I don’t think I know anyone actually opposed to electricity, but there’s nothing like having no power for 1 ½, 95-degree days to realize how much I appreciate electricity.  What a happy moment during my half-sleep on a lawn chair cushion on the basement floor to hear the hum of the air conditioner starting up again.  How beautiful life was again!

This storm was remarkable in a number of ways—a derecho*, which is unusual for this area, that featured so much lightning that it was like watching a strobe light…on high speed.  And just from my window in my town, I saw at least a dozen thick, straight, downward bolts of lightning that lit the sky as if it were daylight.  And there seemed to be little to no warning—I had last heard the weather report at around 6:30 PM, when we were told there was “a 30 percent chance of a thunderstorm” (which, if you live around here, they say nearly every summer day).  Admittedly, we were watching a movie—Chevy Chase in “Vacation”; still funny!—but we didn’t know there was a storm until I went upstairs at about 10:30 and saw out the window that the wind was picking up.  I ran downstairs to tell Steve, and right then the power went out, and the storm was upon us in full force.

Of course, that’s how it used to be.  A fascinating book that I read in my beloved genre of  “books about disaster and survival” is The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin, about a sudden and horrific blizzard in South Dakota/Nebraska in 1888 that resulted in more than a hundred children dying, many as they walked home from school.  Along with the stories of survival, the book talks about the rise of weather forecasting—making me realize that that’s another thing to be grateful for in this day and age, the idea that we often know in advance when a major weather event is potentially headed our way.

Remember English classes in the olden days of high school, when they taught “theme” to us?  As I recall, there were three:  Man vs. Man, some second thing I can’t remember, and Man vs. Nature.  Yes.  There’s a reason that was—and is still—one of the big three.

*Wikipedia IS amazing; our dereceho is already included in the entry!


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.