Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lightning and Snowballs

This is a copy of a column that I had printed in the Kings County Record a couple of weeks ago.  Childhood memories, or memories from my youth, have always helped me write and are also a driving force behind my passion for the outdoors.  I wish, in today's economically driven times, where both parental units are required to work, that we could still get our kids out to the woods more frequently.  I have been able to regularly get my kids outside and as they get older I am finding it easier.  I hope that you are building memories with your kids.
As I sit to write this we are experiencing a thunder and lightening storm in January.  A bit uncommon I'm sure, but it is cool to see, even if a bit disconcerting.  It has brought back a memory from my childhood.  It is a memory that has been etched in my mind for a short time, because after all, my childhood was only a couple of years ago.  Okay, maybe it was more years back than I care to imagine.

Building a camp was a common thing kids did when I was growing up.  Some camps got very elaborate with two and three story versions.  My buddies and I built a single story camp with bunks and a wood stove we found.  We would spend many days there building it better and searching for materials to improve it with.  We even spent many nights there in our mid to late teens.

One winter day a few of us got together and walked through the deep snow as more snow was falling.  We headed up the Mill Brook toward our humble, squatter's, paradise.  We lugged some food, an axe, a saw, and wood with the intent to spend a full day at the "camp." 

After having a lunch we stacked some wood and by wood I mean wet, partially rotten, almost sawdust, logs.  Afterwards we had a snowball fight where we used the steep ravine nearby and the forest as cover and it was everyman for him self.  What better way to spend a day.  The snow was heavily falling with big flakes and it was great for making snowballs.  The air was still with a consistent gray color behind the snow and beyond the tree tops.

Dave Etheridge was about to take a snowball to the chest when all of a sudden, the sky lit up brighter than I've ever seen during the day time.  A loud crack instantly followed and my snowball fell out of my hands, while Dave fell entirely to the ground.  All of us ran, I'll admit, a bit scared to the camp.  It was over before it began though as we never heard or saw another indication of thunder and lightning.  To be honest, we sat in the camp and played cards and likely ate a box of Oreo cookies while our coats and such dried over the wood stove.  The smell of drying mittens over a wood stove will likely always remind me of that day and of the camp itself.  As we grew older we out grew the camp and the next generation of kids was taking it over.  The last time I visited the camp was torn down and all that remained was the back wall and the door.

The day the lightning struck really is a memory that is etched in my mind solidly.  We had later heard that a house in Apohaqui had been struck by lightning but I never followed up to learn for sure.  This recent event travelled across social media faster than the lightning itself ripped through the winter sky.  I was smiling when I heard the people talking with surprise about having thunder and lightning in December.  While it isn't common it has happened yet with social media, maybe the whole event got a bit exaggerated.  Whether climate change is real or not, one thing is for sure, there is truly a change on how informed we are about the weather and on where we get the information.  Changing weather is the norm for the Maritimes so we shouldn't be surprised and hopefully we can prepare ourselves for when Mother Nature tries to pen us in.    

No comments: