Monday, 23 August 2010

Summer Storm


As we leave home by the garden gate,  not a breath of air brushes my skin,  not a leaf stirs.  An upturned bowl of heat sits low on the valley, making every step I take an effort.

Swallows and martins whip overhead, pheasants screech in the nearby fields. The river runs sluggish and even the ducks prefer to stick their heads under a wing, squatting on their haunches on the pebble bank in the middle of the depleted stream.

Perhaps going for our usual afternoon walk was not a good idea.

As we reach the path which will lead us uphill into the pine forest straddling the cone-shaped hill with its iron age fort on the top, the sun beats down on us, pricking my skin and hurting my eyes. I keep my eyes lowered, away from the piercing rays of the sun.

Halfway up through a cutting in the plantation I see distant summer lightning tear the sky momentarily in two. Dark clouds gather in the West.

Benno is panting, the heat is getting to him too; his thick black coat is a most inappropriate garment on a day like today.

It is too late to turn back and go home, we might as well press on. Benno stays close, he has given up running ahead or exploring the undergrowth on both sides of the path. Very soon I know why: I can hear the distant rumble of thunder and more streaks of gold flash across the sky.

Benno is afraid of thunderstorms.

As he is afraid, I had better be brave. I talk to him quietly as we struggle uphill.  We are trying to walk faster, but I am soon out of breath.

A small wind comes up, creating little eddies of dust on the path; the bracken sways and there’s an ominous creaking in the tops of the pines. The light above is dimmed,  mountains of black thundercloud arrive out of nowhere. Benno almost trips me up in his eagerness to get closer.

We walk right into a swarm of midges and flies,  disturbed into boldness by the  approaching storm. I flap and beat my arms about in vain,  the furious swarm stays with us until we reach the copse, the last bit of the climb,  before we get out into the open fields, along a hedge and through a sunken lane which will eventually take us back into the village.

The storm reaches us at the same time as we step from the path through the copse into the open fields. The mountainous clouds open, the rain comes down in a sheet of blinding fury; instantly we are drenched. There is no shelter.

The wind pushes me downhill with an iron fist in my back,  suddenly I am running, stumbling; blindly I crash into any obstacle on the way, Benno streaking ahead, terrified, himself now a flash of lightning, albeit black.

The storm stops as abruptly as it started.  We come to a halt, me bent double, both of us panting,  clothes and coat sticking to us, water running off in rivulets. The sunken lane has turned into a shallow but fast flowing stream. No matter, it is the only way forward; at any rate, we could hardly get any wetter.

By the time we reach the metalled lane into the village the sun is out again. The sky has turned a brilliant blue,  the odd rumble of thunder and feeble flash of lightning gently disappearing over the hills.

The road is steaming, there is a wonderful smell of freshly washed meadow in the air and as we draw level with the first houses we hear the happy gurgle of water running off roofs into water butts.

All is well.


  1. This is such a dramatic post Friko, I felt as though I was going through he storm with you, especially as there was rain hitting our window as I was reading.

  2. Lovely post Friko - I don't envy you being caught out though - I miss the smell of wet meadows, but not "Wet Dogs" (I had a Border Collie and a Ridgeback)

  3. harrowing tale. I felt much sorrier for Benno than I did you.

  4. Stunning piece of writing, yet again. Never mind the thunder, you sure whip up a storm with your words...

  5. You had me frightened which is partly thanks to your very descriptive writing. However, I was once zapped by lightning so I am as wary of walking in storms as Benno. Next time, listen to your dog---please.

  6. Friko, so glad you made it home safe and sound albeit wet. I'm like Benno, petrified of thunderstorms. My compliments once again on your writing skill - you make the reader feel as if they are there with you.

  7. Just a quick word to tell you how refreshed I am after that walk - must go and dry off now!
    What a skilled wordsmith you are.

  8. Well done. I was right there through it all.

  9. excellent friko! i rode home through a similar summer storm just a few days ago. the sky turned purple to my right and i was actually outriding the storm until it turned a sudden left and crossed my path with sharp winds, heavy rain and lightning. as in your story, the storm passed after a while leaving the world clear and fresh. i was completely soaked! steven

  10. Whew! Think that is the storm making it's way to us Friko...I certainly wont be going out in it. 'Twas a short summer but a nice one, the leaves on my Virginia Creeper are beginning to turn.

    An epic post.

  11. Really great piece of writing - original. I enjoyed that.

  12. Excellent, Friko. I feel almost wet! And we are having some thunder here, too. A great story with sound effects!
    I love storms and would have been out there with you...maybe :)

  13. I loved this, Friko. It's been a long time since I experienced thunder or lightening. Storms like that are rare on the Island. I'm in Ontario this week, and it has rained every one of my first few days - but no lightening or thunder. :(

  14. ... aber vielleicht möchte er ja gar keine Sterbehilfe! Und ich denke, wir machen immer wieder den Fehler, dass wir alles viel zu sehr vermenschlichen und so geschieht es, dass wir nicht wenige falsche Entscheidungen treffen...
    Dir eine ruhige und angenehme Nacht und den Tag voller Sonne!

  15. mmh, mein Kommentar sollte eigentlich nicht hier sein, sondern weiter unten...
    Und doch, eine recht dramatische und spannende Beschreibung hier, die ich wieder sehr gerne las und mit Freude!

  16. Very nicely written, Friko.

    "..the metalled lane.." "..An upturned bowl of heat sits low on the valley." Wonderful.

  17. Friko, you took us on an epic journey through
    familiar terrain, letting your poet's eye redefine
    the mundane into an experience
    approaching fantastic. Terrific writing,
    like a short short story. Kind of seems like a
    sterling chapter in a new book you will
    publish entitled BENNO & ME. I posted this
    proudly for others to read.

  18. Just glorious!

    Some agent should discover you...

    Aloha from Waikiki :)

    Comfort Spiral

  19. Glad you and Benno managed to arrive home in one piece Friko. The weather was a bit like that on Saturday at Minsterley show - a right old mud bath but nice when the sun shone.

  20. Lovely piece of writing, and reminiscent of so many walks we've taken in the British Isles. I recall one in Devon, where we could see each front approach--including storm clouds, hail, rain, and sun. We were glad of our OS map, which identified a pub we could duck into to wait out the rain and hail.

  21. madamebuterfly - wet labrador aroma cannot be surpassed. They smell even when dry. But you get used to it.

    marciamayo - thank you for that, I knew I'd find a friend in you.

    jinksy - as does your comment.

    Arkansas Patti - hop you got over the effects by now. do you tingle and glow in the night? Just kidding.

    Carla HR - you are too kind. I'm not seriously frightened by thunderstorms, it's just a bit unpleasant to be caught in one.

    Bonnie - a quick shower works wonders after an outing like that.

    ellen abbott - so you got wet too?

    steven - these storms can be quite exhilarating. It's like taking on nature on its own terms. Not that one can, of course. Still, the attempt is fun.

    Moannie - You clearly have given up on summer, I am still hoping that it might relent and come back. Not much sign of that at the moment, is there?

    Fran - thank you Fran, glad you did.

  22. Kate - Actually, I too love storms; I refer them to calm and gentle days, although have their charms too. I love battling nature.

    Pondside - what is it with the weather everywhere this year? Summers are not what they used to be or are meant to be!

    Vicki Lane - thanks, Vicki

    Renee - ich hab's schone verstanden mit den beiden Kommentaren. Danke fuer beide und dir eine schoene Woche. Bis bald.

    Martin H - thanks Martin.

    Glenn Buttkuss - Thank you Glenn, for your extravagant praise. Where did you post this piece? I didn't see it on your own site.

    Cloudia - Goodness, methingks that is excessive.

    Mollygolver - You really must come to Clun Show next year, we can offer mud too.

    Raining Acorns - we certainly have 'weather' here. Often all of it on the same day.


  23. If it as a posting has been pushed down, or onto the next page, just look under August postings list on the left. Nice to have you poking about my place.

  24. That was great. How I love thunderstorms. What an energizing experience. WOW I never did know when to come in out of the rain.

  25. Beautiful! Thank you for taking me on your walk with Benno. It was just like being there only somehow, I didn't get soaked!


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