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There is joy in watching a thunderstorm


It was a rumble, almost not perceptible. But I knew what it was because the dark clouds on the horizon gave it away, as did the flash of lightning that cuts across the “black as night” clouds.

A thunderstorm coming my way. Coming to freshen the soil with much-needed rain. Coming to remind me that nature still has massive power of its own, beyond anything any of us humans can mess with. As some have tried.

I am not fearful of thunderstorms, as many are. I know not to sit under a tall tree when a thunderstorm is on its way. I have seen what a lightning strike can do to a tall tree, sometimes ripping it apart from top to bottom. I know why lightning rods are important on barn roofs.

Growing up in the sand country of central Wisconsin, and continuing to own a farm there, I know what dry weather is like. I know what happens when it doesn’t rain for days. When the grass turns brown, the corn leaves roll, and every living creature waits. Waits for rain.

And I continue to celebrate and enjoy watching a thunderstorm boiling up in the west, with zagged bolts of lightning slices across a menacing sky. I enjoy the noise and the fireworks, for I know that rain is on its way. Much needed rain.

After the storm clouds move off to the east, and the blast of thunder becomes a low rumble, I go outside and smell the freshness of the land once more washed with rain.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: For those of us close to the land, thunderstorms mean rain.

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work, go to www.jerryapps.com.