I don’t go walking anytime there are storms in the area. I’ve already used my “Get away alive” card . . .
The campus at Flat State University seems to be on the only hill in Flat State. Especially on hot, humid late summer days when I was schlepping my book-laden self up to the library or geography building (both near the top of The Hill).
One morning spring, after some thunderstorms, I looked at the radar on the internet and decided it was safe to walk to campus. A little rain wouldn’t hurt me, and the thunder and lightning had all passed the area. A few little spots of building storm appeared to the southwest, but I could get to campus and be well inside, tucked away in my cozy and dry study-carrel before anything happened.
So I loaded my backpack, put on a jacket and hat and set out. It was about a mile from my apartment to campus, and a little farther up The Hill. The cool, dark morning encouraged a brisk pace and I made good time, enjoying the quiet and the relative lack of traffic. Saturday morning at nine is not exactly lively in college towns when there’s not a sports event on the scheduled. I got dripped on by a few trees, but nothing terrible.
I heard the soft grumble of distant thunder as I started up the approach to The Hill. Hey, no worries, it was a good distance away. The rain drops started getting closer together, and I accelerated. I could see the back entrance to the library ahead. I did crouch a little, in part to make a smaller target for the cold wind that had started.
Blink blink. Ow, my ears. Why am I trying to become one with the (cold, hard) bricks of the sidewalk? Why do I smell burning plant matter? Where’s the bush that used to be right . . .
Looking back from the doorway to the library I could see the remains of a hedgy sort of generic shrub thing that had been growing in the corner where a sidewalk turned toward one of the other buildings. I’d been standing about six feet (two meters) from the bush, and managed to not get hit by lightning. Unlike the bush. I then set the new Flat State sprint record from the supine starting position getting from the brick of the sidewalk to the shelter of the building. And the rain began pounding down, dousing the remains of the shrubbery.
Once I stopped shaking and my ears quit ringing, I went up to the computer row, logged in, and called up the radar. A cell had formed just over the southwest part of town and marched across campus. It would prove to be the last thunderstorm of the day.
And that’s why I don’t go walking when there’s thunder and lightning in the area.