A flash of lightning and a crash of thunder

Published 8:00 am Thursday, July 21, 2022

Summer means hot, humid days, July 4th fireworks that seem to go on until August, and afternoon scattered storms that, like popcorn, spring up on radar with precious little time to take cover.

 

And when you have livestock that you want to keep from becoming deadstock, that requires a Usain Bolt-inspired sprint across the pasture with halters in one hand and feed buckets clanging in the other, trying to catch two, retired horses who never, ever, show the remotest desire to suddenly kick up their heels and gallop the perimeter of the property– until I actually try to catch them.

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Tino and Forrest, ignorant about the threat of standing beneath a water-logged Tulip Poplar, tend to head towards this tree in inclement weather as if they were nonchalant golfers continuing to play through the threat of a storm while holding aloft clubs that could double as lightning rods. It was just this location that I found them after having no idea a storm was approaching while I sitting around, pantless (as you do—don’t try for a second to say you don’t), at beer o’clock in the evening, last week.

 

A flash of lightning, and only a handful of seconds later, a crash of thunder saw my feet leaving skid marks as I dashed out the door to bring those retired horses into the safety of the barn. 

 

“Crazy,” Paul opined, watching me fumbling to put on shoes that always put up a fight in an emergency.

 

“They could get hit by lightning!” I barked back in frustration.

 

“There’s a bigger risk that you’ll get hit,” he said. “Lightning always strikes the tallest thing, first.”

 

“Not helpful,” I said, and slammed the door.

 

But his comment rang in my ears as I poured some feed into the buckets to shake and entice the horses. This, they ignored, as the last time they came when I used this ploy, I had tossed a handful of gravel into the buckets which was found to be greatly offensive to them as they were captured. Now as I ran down the hill, counting the seconds between strikes of lightning to determine its proximity (three miles, but lightning can strike even twenty miles from its location), I was trying to vaguely remember tips for surviving when caught out in a storm. There was something about crouching down—making one as low as possible, so maybe if I ran crouched over, I’d survive. Possibly, but as far as the horses were concerned, the hunched-over Gru from ‘Despicable Me’ was coming at them at warp speed and they weren’t having it.

 

Both horses took off in opposite directions, bouncing around the top field like pinballs, darting beneath trees and opening up to gallop for long stretches. I could swear I felt the actual electricity in the air and was relieved to see Tino turn, his stomach winning him over, as he approached the bucket of feed tentatively. Only a couple of feet away, he suddenly wheeled around, flicked up his back hooves and took off in the other direction.

 

“Fine!” I yelled in frustration. “Stay out. Just DIE! See if I care.” 

 

Of course, I cared. But it would be wise to actually try and stay alive in order to care for the other two who were already safely locked in their stalls. The skies opened, the rain poured down and the wind spun the tops of the trees. Soaked, I entered the house with a face like thunder and Paul knew better than to say anything as I changed out of my wet clothes. Until I remerged.

 

“Alright?”

 

“Nope, they wouldn’t be caught, so they can just stay out in it, and good luck to them. I’m not going back out there and getting killed because they’re too stupid to come in. I’m done.”

 

“Huh,” said Paul, glancing out the window. “By the way, they’re standing at the pasture gate, waiting to come in.”

 

A trail of expletives followed me out the front door…