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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Hail's Bells!!

 Greetings from your Second of the Month Mistress of Ceremonies! I'm going to jump right in to April's topic of stormy weather at its finest/scariest by asking you, what do these three things have to do with each other?

1) A tympani orchestra
2) A single-wide aluminum trailer
3) A blankie

Any guesses? I'll give you a hint: Rain. Like the most gargantuan waterfall, built into the clouds, letting loose a colossal outpouring of rain. The loudest symphony for a tympani orchestra ever composed, courtesy of Maestro Mother Nature. Hard rain accompanied by rumbling thunder that rattles a trailer's thin window panes and ill-fitting doors, all totally overshadowed by what sounds like bullets hitting tin cans on the roof. Tendrils of lightning shooting through the sky. A child (or adult, I'm not too proud to admit), quaking beneath a beloved blankie or clutching it to their chest, certain that the world is blowing up.
I've been asked, probably like most writers have, if my characters have some of my own personality traits. I don't see how a fictional story could be written without some of them sneaking in. We've all been affected and shaped by our life experiences. We know ourselves and what makes us tick better than anyone else so it makes sense that when we create fictional characters we give them a real-life characteristic(s) of our own.

When I created Reese Adams in my Games People Play series I had no intention of burdening her with any of my personality quirks, but she got a couple anyway. The girl is sardonic and terrified of thunderstorms. I relate to both, although I must say, Reese is far more mouthy/sassy/irreverent than I am or ever have been. She's like a tiny devil urging my sub-conscious to Just Go Ahead and Say It Already! 

As for her fear of storms, that one has a solid foundation with a little twist: I've never lived in a single-wide trailer in Arizona. As a kid, Reese grew up in both. Now, Arizona is host to some pretty wicked monsoon seasons, from evil dust storms to very violent thunderstorms. Beginning around late June, temps start rising to uncomfortable levels. Dry grasses broil in the sun. The wind picks up. Clouds start rolling in. Cumulus thunderheads darken the sky. And when the rain finally comes it can be huge and scary.
If you have to be stuck in a lot of water, choose this method....Grand Canyon National Park, Colorado River

Ever been in an aluminum-siding trailer during a crazy thunderstorm? Or a camper? I've had that never-to-be-forgotten experience. With my family when I was a young girl. Not in Arizona, but in Minnesota during the summer. We were camping at the edge of one of Minnesota's thousand lakes. The storm came in fast, no slow build-up with a few graceful arcs of lightning and muffled echoes of thunder. My sister and I huddled up in the single bunk bed, our parents and dog were below us. When my sister screamed and started crying my mother called out - actually had to yell to be heard over the racket - "It's just noise! It can't hurt you!"

As children we just naturally believe everything our parents tell us. They're the grown-ups. They know it all, right? Well, in this matter I had to disagree (silently) with my mother. The booming thunder was not just noise. It was an angry monster in the sky trying to reach through the thin metal roof of that camper and snatch me up. 

lightning during a monsoon storm, Table Mesa, Arizona

After the storm passed and we'd recovered enough to venture outside, we discovered an amazing phenomena that I've seen only a few times since. Hail. Hail too big to be classified as stones. These were hail balls. Huge, fit-in-the-palm of my hand size chunks of ice. I did mention that this was in the summer, right? Ice plunging from the sky in the summer. My mom gave my sister and I buckets to collect these hail balls in, which helped take our minds off the terror we'd shook from only a few minutes before.

I've been through some horrific storms, but that one has always headed the list of Mother Nature's Most Terrifying Gifts. Can't help but be impressed by such a thing though. While holding onto a blankie (or teddy bear, or both), for dear life.

 Any memorable storms that you experienced as a child that have stayed with you?

Twister, the third book in Polly's Games People Play series, will be released later this month. 

Polly posts on RB4U's blog on the second of every month. You can find out more about her and her books at her website:
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Cara Marsi said...

Wonderful pictures, Polly. Your storm stories had my stomach clenching with tension. I live on the East Coast, where thankfully there are few extreme storms. We have hurricanes and snowstorms, but tornadoes are rare. I can't remember any bad storms, other than some snowstorms, when I was growing up. More recently, in 2008, we had a bad hailstorm with golf ball size hail that damaged our cars.

Polly McCrillis said...

Hi Cara - I'm familiar with East coast storms, both ends of it. It's that central to mid section that gets the hurricane activity, although when I lived in Florida I remember a couple hurricanes that were long distance travelers, all the way up to New England. Mother Nature, she keeps us guessing!

jean hart stewart said...

Great pictures...where did you find them. I have no hurricanes to remember, even though I grew up in the midwest.We had a hail storm here in San Diego one summer recently that was really fun. And quite a surprise.

Polly McCrillis said...

I get most of my images for my blogs at Wikimedia Commons, Jean. Sometimes I have to wade through many before I find what I'm looking for but it ends up being worth the wading time!

Melissa Keir said...

Last year, we had a tornado go over the school where I was teaching. I was in the middle of the room with the students trying to play it off like it was a drill but the end of the day came and went, we couldn't leave. Still unsafe. Michigan doesn't get really severe weather but when it does...Yikes!

Kim Kasch said...

I LOVE thunder storms but then I live in the Pacific NW where we don't get many so it's a treat.

I can only remember one storm from growing up, it was one that literally lifted me up off my feet...kind of like a romance and falling in love ;D right?

Polly McCrillis said...

Melissa, about the only Michigan weather Michigan that makes national news is the winter temps and snowfall amount. Not too dangerous, if you have heat and a shovel!

Polly McCrillis said...

Kim, if you've had a romance or FIL experience that lifted you off your feet (on your accord, not with the help of a pair of strong, manly arms), then I just have to say I am envious!

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