When we were younger, my family would watch storms together. We rolled up the garage door, and sat in lawn chairs, just under the edge of the roof. Close enough to the rain to touch it, but not close enough to get wet. We only watched when there was lightning. If there was just a shower, we kept inside. We liked to feel the electricity in the air.
Last spring in Galesburg, the city where I sometimes live, the Spoon River tipped its banks and spilled down a hill into a student lounge at Carl Sandburg College. The force of the water was so strong that it ripped the doors of the building off its hinges and set computer desks afloat. The rest of the city flooded, too. People were stranded, afraid their homes would be destroyed. The most I saw was the mote around my school’s library. We live on a hill.
I had a dream that my dad was stuck in a flood. He was in his car, on the street. The water was green and rising fast. My mom and I were safe inside, standing at the kitchen window, watching, waiting, hoping he would make it home. He was so close. I woke up before I knew whether he did.
Astraphobia is the fear of thunder and lightning. My dog is afraid of thunder, and so am I. I hug her to comfort us both.
One of my favorite stories when I was little was A. A. Milne’s “In Which Piglet is Entirely Surrounded by Water,” in a small, illustrated book of its own. I was six, so my brother had to be two or three at the time. He understood the concept of the story–he knew what it meant for Piglet to be entirely surrounded by water. So his response to the text was to drop the book in the toilet and flush. Suddenly the text became real. That book is still sitting on my shelf, pages wrinkled and stuck together.
That story is about Piglet, the smallest of animals, trying to get help because he is trapped alone at home in a flood. He is in no imminent or obvious danger; he just wants company. After all, “it wasn’t much good having anything exciting like floods if you couldn’t share them with somebody.”
It’s raining again here in Galesburg. The Spoon River has overflowed. The least we can do is share it.