On First Storms

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As I was writing yesterday’s post about folk wisdom and the fine art of applying science to real life I was reminded of something The Man has said every year since I met him, and this picture I took last week after the first real thunderstorm of the season. I have never heard anyone else say it and while I could speculate as to what scientific principles may be behind it, I’ve never seen any sort of evidence that could be reasonably correlated to it. Still, he has always maintained that the first thunderstorm of the season “shocks” the ground.

I have never been clear whether he means an actual shock, as in by lightening. Or a more figurative shock, as in the way one particular boom of thunder while I was loading groceries into the truck last week made me jump. And I’m not sure it matters.

In any case, the outcome has been implied a million ways. “Looks like we’ll have our first thunderstorm tomorrow, that ought’a pull the last of the frost out,” or “We need a good thunderstorm to get the water moving out of the fields,” or “A thunderstorm’ll wake the earthworms up.” It seems counterintuitive. If there’s too much water standing in the fields the last thing you might think we need is for more of it pour out of the sky by the bucketful. But I also have to admit there’s something to it. And maybe that something is just coincidence, but around here the first thunderstorm of the season almost always seems to directly precede a rapid acceleration of spring into summer; the ground opens up and swallows up the standing water, the grass grows by leaps and bounds, the leaves appear on the trees in short order. Whatever it is, I’m looking forward to it.