Respect.

I have always been fascinated by thunderstorms. Throw in some strong winds, a bit of hail, and the threat of a tornado and for me it’s a party. I try to be safe but I always want to experience most everything Mother Nature can whip up when she’s showing off one of her amazing light shows.

Of course, I must experience all of this on the ground. I will never, ever try to thread an airplane between storm clouds. As a kid I was in the backseat of a Piper Tri-Pacer with a friend of my Dad’s in the pilot seat and my dad’s best friend’s wife in the passenger seat. Dad and his best friend were ahead of us in the J-5A. We were flying along the Lake Ontario coast, a thunderstorm close behind. I remember bouncing around in the back seat of that Piper Tri-Pacer and seeing lightning flashes in the distance. We were barely back at the airport and in the hangar when the storm came bearing down on us. The hail could have damaged the fabric of the Tri-Pacer, but we made it back just in time.

Too close for comfort in my book.

I’ve flown close enough to a storm in the Cherokee 180 to know that I don’t really want to experience that again. “Just ride it like a boat on the lake”. A few hundred feet up, a few hundred feet down, over and over again.

Yeah, not for me in an airplane.

But on the ground? Bring on the lightning. Bring on the thunder. Throw out some wind. Saturate the world with rain. Pelt with hail. I want to see it. I want to feel it. I want to be in it.

It’s a good thing we don’t live in hurricane country.

I’m on our balcony watching lightning light up the sky. I feel entranced. I feel excitement as if I were a kid again, sleeping on the floor of the living room in the family colonial-style house, another severe thunderstorm coming through off Lake Ontario.

Chicago has its share of decent thunderstorms throughout the year. Honestly, I’d rather be out on the prairie where I can see more and the city hasn’t slowed the storm down, but I’m content with my urban view.

Mother Nature is so beautiful.

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