I immediately got excited because I love thunder storms, as long as they don't carry a threat of tornadoes with them. In WA State, they don't - so I love them. I was talking to my fiance on Skype and let him know that I was hanging up so we could go see some of the storm.
"We should go outside and watch," I told my 9-year-old, Guenevere. "I love thunder storms!"
"I don't!" she replied. "They scare me!"
"Why do they scare you?" I asked, ushering her out the back door into the cool night. I was relieved to go outside because inside was so muggy after a hot day like this one. To my surprise, Guen grabbed my pink robe and wrapped it around herself before stepping out through the screen door.
"Because," she began. "It's loud and it touches the ground and destroys stuff."
I smiled. "I think this one might have the kind that goes from cloud to cloud. Look!"
We watched as lightning lit up the night sky several times before we even heard the far away sound of thunder.
"No it wasn't," I told her with a smile. "If you count the seconds between when you see lightning and hear thunder, you can kind of tell if it's far away or nearby."
The cool night air was refreshing and clean - a perfect example of the beauty of not living in a large city.
We counted together as we saw the night sky light up again.
"One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand...."
We made it all the way to 20 when I cut the counting short and reassured her that the storm was far away.
"How do you know that, Mommy?" she asked.
"Well, because light travels fast and sound travels slow. So we'll see the light a lot longer before we ever hear the sound, even though they're coming from the same place."
"Oh, I get it!" She smiled at me. I almost got a little sad when I saw that she fit into my robe pretty well... although it was pretty long on her.
I put my arm around her and pulled her close to me, taking a deep breath of the fresh air. I heard a couple of bats squeaking up above us and we stood in silence for a few moments.
Slowly but surely, I began to hear raindrops falling across the way, hitting leaves on trees and tarps and other various surfaces, not more than 40 feet away from where we were standing.
"Listen," I whispered. "It's starting to rain."
"But I don't feel any drops," she whispered back.
"That's because they're starting over there and moving toward us," I told her.
Sure enough, it was almost like a layered curtain of sound began to move toward us. It was extremely slow, and I took her back toward the sliding door.
"I bet if we stay here, we'll be able to watch the rain come towards us," I told her. "And even if we can't see it, we'll be able to hear it."
We sat down on our back deck and waited, listening and watching intently, waiting for the rain to reach us.
I was amazed at the sounds it made as it came our way and how distinct every drop was as they moved closer to us. The rain was clearly heavy; it landed hard on everything it reached, indicating that the drops were pretty big.
Then we started hearing and seeing the drops land on the deck, which is not covered. Each drop knocked on the wood alone, still far enough apart to be distinct.
Then, a big, fat drop of rain landed on the back of my hand.
"I just felt one!" Guen said at that moment.
"Me, too," I told her, and we stayed for a few more moments to enjoy the sound and the refreshing moisture. Knowing that the rain would get heavier, I stood up.
"The rain is going to get worse," I told Guen. She followed as I made my way back inside the house, keeping the glass door open. The rain would cool things down even more, and hopefully the house would cool off, too.
Sure enough, there were heavy rains for about 10 minutes, pounding on the wooden deck and threatening to spill inside the house through the screen.
It reminded me of nights in my childhood spent watching thunderstorms in Colorado, the day's heat and dryness being relieved temporarily by a quick and amazing storm, usually right after dinner. The biggest difference was that the drops of rain were warmer in Colorado than they are here.