Ceraunophilia; loving thunder and lightning, finding them intensely beautiful.
I’m attracted to lightning. There’s just something about the raw power of a storm that draws me and fascinates me. I’m not sure how or why my love came about but it might have to do with the first storm I saw.
It was a family holiday, I was five and we were at a zoo. We heard the rumble of thunder and I remember asking what that sound was and then what the flashing lights in the sky were. We ran for the shelter of a cafe as the rain hammered down and the storm raged right over head. My baby sister cried, like a lot of the children round us but I pressed my face to the window and watched the pretty lights in awe.
After that, any thunder and lightning storm interested me and I would check the weather forecast to see when one was due. Sometimes, I’ll travel to a location to capture a storm and I watch lots of recordings online.
People might call me a storm chaser, but that’s not really what I do. I just enjoy watching lightning and listening to thunder.
From his window, safe and warm in his house, Peter watched a mixture of hailstone and snow falling. In a few blinks, everything was icy white as if someone had dropped lots of tins of paint. Cars slide across the road and people tried to battle against the snow storm.
A bright flash of light nearly blinded him and Peter looked up, confused. Had that been lightening? He listened, but could hardly hear the rumble of thunder that followed. Two storms at once? he wondered. Searching, he soon saw another lightening strike but this time he didn’t hear the thunder.
He searched his mind and recalled something, he had once heard on the news in another country; thundersnow. It happened in winter, during a snow storm and the lightening was brighter then normal due to reflection off the snow and the thunder was quieter. Was this what he was seeing now? Peter wasn’t sure, but it seemed possible.
The sky was alive. The white lightening shot across grey clouds then disappeared. Thunder rumbled, booming so loudly that everyone was deafened. Rain drops the size of golf balls bounced along the pavement. The traffic stopped and the sound of the storm grew louder. I tried to look out of my windows and I double checked my mirrors, but I couldn’t see the reason everyone had stopped.
Ignoring my messy, tried self in the mirror, I hoped that whatever was causing the jam went away fast. I just wanted to get home, get out of my receptionist clothes and into PJs. Then have some soup and green tea before crawling into bed. Letting down my chocolate colored hair, I shook it out then tied it back up again.
The windscreen wipes battered the rain away, but it was no good and I could hardly see outside. I put the handbrake on and keeping one hand on the wheel, switched my CD music to the radio. I skipped through a few, but then found one that was going through the hourly news.
‘Traffic reports are coming in as many roads have flooded and road accidents have happened. If you don’t need to go out stay in doors as this storm is set to stay awhile. However, it should clear up in the early hours of the morning, but tomorrow is staying wet and windy,’ the clipped female voice said through the speaks.
I sighed and rubbed my head. A car horn blared, though the driver choose the wrong moment as the thunder sounded over him. I looked up, searching for the lightening and then I saw it. The bright forking flash was just above the roof of a pub opposite and the light was spread really far across that part of sky.
The thunder rumbled and I swear I felt it vibrating through my small car. The lightening flashed again, making me jump. My hair stood on end and my eyes couldn’t leave the spot right above the pub roof. The lightening stuck again. The jagged white light seemingly taking over the sky as multiply forks came together.
I blinked the blindness away and looked hard at the rear of the car ahead of me. I could just make out the red glowing lights through all the rain. I stopped my windscreen wipers, noticing they weren’t even working now. Some rap song was playing, but the voice of the singer and the beating music were lost to the sound of thunder.
I turned the radio off and put my hands into my lap. It was going to be a long evening and my plans of PJs, soup and bed were on hold whilst I rode out the storm.
The forest grew unsettled in the gathering night, causing me to pause on the dirt road. Ahead seemed wrapped in darkness and I could hardly make out the towering trees on either side. Here was not a place I wanted to stop. I slipped my hiking rucksack off and dug inside one of the outer pockets. My fingers closed around a cold plastic cylinder. I heaved the pack up again and switched the wind-up torch on. The beam hardly made a dint in the approaching blackness. Aiming the light down, I went on with cautious steps. Around me, the forest burst with nocturnal life. Owls, bats and other night flyers took to the sky hunting down their meals, whilst calling out. Ground and tree creatures scuttled, making their way through dying leaves and evergreens. The breeze, that had been tailgating me, turned into a growing wind, which lashed tree branches about. The air threated rain. I pressed on, remembering from the map that was a semi-abandoned trail coming up on my right, which would lead me to a cabin. As the light fell upon this, a sigh of relief left me. Hurrying along, tiredness aching in all my limbs, the cabin loomed from the night like a hunched up monster. The door opened on first push, realising a damp unpleasant smell into my face. I stepped in as the rain began to fall and the wind let out a long howl. I felt the door closed and the latch click down. A large room reflected under the torch with the different sections marked out by a scattering of furniture. I tried out the coffin bed in the far left corner, then put my sleeping bag and travel pillow there. An exploration of the place revealed that the wood burning stove still worked and someone had left dry wood and candles. Lighting them both caused the cabin to come to life. ‘Try your best nature,’ I said, ‘you’ve been threating my trip for days, but now I’ve almost made it and there’s nothing you can do about it.’ A roll of thunder and a crack of lighting replied to my words. I jumped back at the sudden noise and moved to the door were the now violent gale force wind was causing the cabin to quiver. The latch was firmly in place and there was nothing else to seal the door against the outside forces. I glanced around and decided that the small hovel was probably use to such weather and would offer me sanctuary. The second wave of thunder rumbled above me as I strode to my pack with the intention of making some food. It was a long night. I slept fitfully; waking, half-waking, dozing off, falling into sleep and then waking again, repeatedly. The wind and rain whipped around in frenzy as if trying to get in. The thunder roamed back and forth like wild ocean waves. The lighting seemed just as loud, though none of its flashing came through the thick wood of the cabin and the place had no windows. Luckily, I kept the fire going so the cabin was filled with some heat and light. With my eyes fixed on the dancing flames, I finally fell into a deep sleep. Coming wake from a strange dream, I could still hear the wind and rain outside, though it seemed like the storm had officially passed. The fire had grown dim, but I was able to get it going enough to warm some water and porridge. After, I peeked outside. A wet, cold wind swiped at my face and morning light darted around the trees. I put on my rain coat, packed my bag, thanked the cabin and stepped out.