For a while, the Peachtree Roadrace was postponed because of lightning. Wave “M” and back were stopped for a little over 30 minutes while the cold rain soaked the thousands, and the boom of thunder filled the air. My husband was in group “N” and huddled with the others before starting the 10K up Peachtree Street. He finished a little wet for wear. Lightning can put a damper on things. But he’ll never forget this race, while others are lost in the haze of memory.
During lightning that is still far away, I like to sit on the back patio and enjoy the silence before the storm. When it gets close, I scuttle inside. Experiencing lightning invariably brings back a memory, and not a very pleasant one. I must have been five years old and two older middle school aged girls came to my grandmother’s house to take me for a walk. Our walk took us to a green grassy area with lots of trees. Then the heaven’s fell. The thunder roared and the lightning crashed. And what did my two babysitters do? They took me under the largest tree for “protection.” Somehow, I knew that the taller the tree, the more likely it was to be “hit.” I was more afraid of being under the tree, than of the storm. But did they listen? Of course not! I was a little kid and they knew better. Thankfully, we were not zapped.
While lightning and children are certainly not a good match, other kinds of weather and children certainly are compatible and create all kinds of adventures. The few times we have had snow in Upson County, even adults shed the grown up skin to build snow men or have snowball fights with younger family members. Snow brings out the inner child in us. Who of us remembers trying to catch a snowflake on our tongue? As a kid, I remember bringing out a magnifying glass to try and see the different designs before it melted. I don’t think I ever managed it.
But here we are in the baking hot summer. This is a hot one. What brings out more giggles in children than the swimming pool? The screaming and giggling kids causing giant tides of water from cannonballs or the many pool toys to add to the fun. Sun and kids go hand in hand. And then there are Slip N Slides. For my now-grown children, when they were little, we lived in a home with a giant back yard, perfect for the long run and dive on to the Slip N Slide. The trick was making sure there was enough water to make it super slippery. With watermelon on the picnic tables, pitchers of lemonade, and the screams of delight of sopping wet kids, I have these fantastic memories. Today there are all sorts of Slip N Slides: Wham-O Slip N Slide, Banzi Slip N Slide … they are endless.
But what of the rain — without lightning? With smaller children puddles are a delight. There is nothing more adorable than watching a toddler or little boy and girl in bright yellow, pink or blue (they come in all colors) rain boots (I called them galoshes as a kid) splashing around in muddy puddles.
Weather and kids can make some pretty awesome memories. Just remember that July is the peak month for lightning strikes, so rainy day family fun should keep an eye out for those thunderstorm clouds. Grab the rain gear, a bright umbrella and see the joy in the eyes of a child on one of those rainy days. And should a little sun appear, follow that rainbow to make a weather memory you never forget.
Penny Cliff is the Chief Archivist at the Thomaston-Upson Archives and an adjunct faculty member of the History Department at Gordon State College and University in Barnesville.