I grew up in Florida. Think hurricanes, occasional tornadoes spinning out of the hurricanes, and torrential downpours that will flood a street in minutes. Then, of course, there are the things that follow the aforementioned acts of nature - like further acts of nature, trees falling, loose items scattered all over creation.
It's actually a sight to behold. The calm before a storm is filled with ominous peace. It's as if the world is holding its collective breath in anticipation. Then come the winds. Then slow, fat drops of rain start to fall and that's all the warning that's given. More often than not, those fat raindrops are followed immediately by a torrent of rain that can leave you soaked to the skin in seconds flat.
Growing up, once a storm started, we'd often watch through the windows - especially if there was lightning. It was like this amazing light show - one of a kind, one showing only. I loved watching the storms. It's one of the things I remember doing with my mom; she taught us how to appreciate the awesome power of a storm.
As a kid, it was exhilarating. Whenever there was a storm without lightning, my parents would let us go outside and run through the rain (which makes your hair really soft!). We didn't have air conditioning for a lot of years, so those summer storms were a welcome relief from the heat and humidity that reigns supreme in Florida.
As a teenager, I was constantly frustrated that my mile-high teased, shaped and hair-sprayed into submission hair would be flattened in less time than it took to say, "Hurry, get inside!" (Have you ever gotten hair-sprayed hair wet? No, NINETIES hair-sprayed hair. It was a horror show. What on earth made us think that big, poofy bangs looked good?)
After reaching the age of majority (18), I went with a friend to Jacksonville to spend the weekend. We spent some time with a couple little girls who were either friends of her family or family members - I can't recall for sure. We drove with the girls from Jacksonville to the outlet malls in St. Augustine. It was a nice, hot summer day and we knew a storm was coming. We went, did our shopping and then decided to head back to Jax. The older of the two girls had a problem - she always felt like she needed to pee, even when she didn't. That's a feeling that can produce a lot of anxiety, especially in a child that age (around 6 or 7). We tried to sing songs, tell stories, read books - anything to get her mind off her full-feeling-but-actually-empty bladder.
Then it happened. We got hit with a torrential downpour. Four-lane highway, 70 miles per hour and we couldn't see 5 feet in front of us. The rain slammed down on the car so hard that we had to practically yell over the sound of it. And we had a child in the backseat who thought she needed to pee. In the middle of one of the worst rainstorms I've ever been in. She had to pee. Rain. Pee. Rain. Pee. Get it? Good. You ever try keeping a 6-year-old's mind off of peeing when she's surrounded by falling water!? Stressful! (Don't worry; we pulled over along with every single other person on that highway until the rain slowed.)
Imagine my surprise, upon moving to Canada, when people called drizzle "rain". Seriously, the barely more than mist that we call drizzle in Florida is rain up here. Thunderstorms are not terribly common, nor are they terribly dramatic when they happen. In ten years, I can basically count on one hand the number of storms that came close to what I experienced growing up in the Sunshine State. I remember my husband's first trip to Tallahassee in August 1998. He witnessed his first torrential downpour and took pictures AND video. He wanted to document the rain for his family to see because they had never seen anything like it. He got lucky - we had a torrential downpour AND the sun was shining the entire time, through the thunder, rain and lightning.
Today it "rained" in Ottawa. There was drizzle that fell in between drops you could dodge if you walk at a good pace. I work downtown, which is a small area jam packed with a whole lot of people. And every time it "rains", roughly 85-90% of that large number of people stuffed like sardines into the core carry umbrellas to to stay dry. I find it amusing to realize that Ottawans turn into big 'ole wimps as soon as a little water starts dripping out of the sky. I was nearly plowed down by a woman who had her umbrella foisted in front of her like a shield. She couldn't see where she was going or anyone who might be coming at her. I was hit in the head by people who seem to have no spacial awareness when they have an umbrella in their hand. I had to jump and strain to see around the sea of umbrellas at my bus stop so I wouldn't miss my bus - all while getting barely damp from the "rain". I'll say it again - and I have no malicious intent - Ottawans are wimps! ;) I'm smiling as I say it, because I know most Floridians would just as soon go running home rather than live through our January or February weather!
As I was sitting here writing this, the rain picked up quite a bit. We were actually having an honest-to-goodness rain storm for about 10 minutes. A nice one, too. The kind where there's an occasional bolt of "soft" lightning, the lowest rumble of thunder in the distance, but mostly it's just a steady beat of rain - relaxing and calming. The perfect storm to come before bed. I think I'll sleep well tonight.