It doesn’t rain in California–at least not often–but in Maine, the storms come in with a fury, sunlight one moment, darkness the next, the heavens ripped wide open. Yesterday, the thunder claps reminded me of a Rip Van Winkle record my mom played us as kids, a strange story about tiny men bowling in the sky. Or maybe I dreamed it.
But I did not dream the lightning strike. On the porch of Aunt Ellie’s cottage, we sat spellbound by the black sky, which flashed completely white every so often. We counted the seconds until those sky dwarves threw another strike. The storm didn’t seem all that close, actually, which may be why I screamed when a bolt of lightning hit just fifty feet away. An epic flash and a giant craaaaack! that reverberated in my bones.
Uncle Norman was the first to spot the tree. It was in the neighbor’s yard, still standing, still green, but up one side its bark was gone, blasted off by the force of electricity. The trunk wasn’t black or burnt–instead, the exposed sapwood looked white and shiny and new. Todd ran through the pouring rain to retrieve the fallen bark, a trophy of sorts, while Aunt Ellie went to the kitchen to grab a pen and paper. And this is what she wrote.