Aug 19 2010

Light Show

Melissa Crytzer Fry

I grew up in Pennsylvania, not far from Lake Erie. That meant “lake effect” was part of our vocabulary and that clouds were more common than sunshine.  In fact, it was that very phenomenon that spurred my move to Arizona.

Lightning strikes photographed near the Galiuro and Winchester Mountains, Arizona. Click to enlarge.

So, back to Pennsylvania … I’d counted how many days we went with ‘zero’ sunlight (I was then 27). And when I got to day no. 35, I had an epiphany. “Hey… I don’t have to live here. I can live anywhere.“

Then I did it. I finally traded my 300-plus days of rain (okay… an exaggeration, but it felt like it) for 300-plus days of sunshine and landed in the southwest.

While I still consider myself a sun-worshipper, I’ve had an interesting change of perspective – a new appreciation for precipitation, if you will. There is truly nothing more spectacular than the monsoon storms we get in the Sonoran Desert beginning in July and continuing through September.

All that open space leads to breathtaking lightning strikes like the recent one captured above by my completely weather obsessed National-Weather-Service-Trained-Spotter husband.

For Writers: Stormy relationships. Stormy tempers. Stormy characters. The awe-inspiring power of nature has become not only a metaphor in writing, but it also is often a backdrop to set the tone in particular scenes. I always think of the movie Shawshank Redemption (adapted from a novella by Stephen King) and the use of inclement weather to set tone in the final scenes (excellent!). Thunder, lightning, and rain … they really can evoke strong sentiments of fear and foreboding for the reader – and, depending on how skillfully the writer uses language, a sense of hope and rebirth.

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