Tuesday, May 01, 2007

What We're Missing

Lightening struck two of my neighbor's trees today; it was unlike anything I've ever seen--split a huge old Oak tree right down the middle. It's still standing there, stripped of most of its bark, a slit in the center, letting light through. Another tree next to it lost all its bark on one side. There are splinters and fragments all over the yard, but no big branches or pieces of the trunk fell at all, no chunks or slabs of bark--its as if the Looney Tunes' Tasmanian Devil roared by, or a sudden plague of locusts. Now you see it, now you don't. Pow! The trees stand naked and ashamed.

The power went out all over the neighborhood at the exact moment of the strike--a bright flash, a sizzle, and a pop--then all was dark. I prayed my new computer was safe. I hoped I'd have refrigeration again before my milk spoiled. Since our well pump is electric, I couldn't wash dishes or laundry or even flush my toilet more than once. I couldn't work (or dawdle) on my computer, I couldn't listen to radio or use the phone. So, I lit candles in my living room and did puzzles with my four year old son. He said the candles were pretty and was more excited than usual at finding where each puzzle piece exactly fit.

Later, while I sat with my legs tucked under me, reading on the couch where the light was strongest, everything turned on, again. I did take a moment--a long one--to notice the change, but I did jump up, then and check my email to see what I had missed while the world went on and my neighborhood slept. I had missed nothing. But all afternoon and into the evening, cars pulled off and stopped along my street and people stared, dumbstruck at the naked trees.