Of Much Ado About Lightning

Lightning diaries

There’s something beautiful and terrifying about a thunder-shower; maybe it’s because in the past week everyday there has been an evening storm, some more violent than others but definitely all more than I am accustomed to, so I have lightning on my mind.

Growing up I diagnosed myself as having a “nervous disposition” at least that’s what I learnt from watching TV. Just before a programme started and it came with the announcement that

Warning the following programme is not for those with a nervous disposition, viewer discretion is advised

That would be my cue to leave the room.

nervous disposition

Thunderstorms are nature’s very own apocalyptic movies; watching a flash of lightning would make my heart skip a beat and the clap of thunder that rumbled on and on seemed to reverberate in my very bones. I am not sure what I feared most; the lightning or the thunder or even why it terrified me so much, maybe it was just the loud noise or perhaps it was the seemingly inevitable probability of death by lightning.

We fear what we don’t understand

Years later, in school I would learn about science and the wonderful around me, including the interesting world of static electricity. Rubbing a plastic ruler on your head gave it a static charge which you could use to pick up a piece of paper or move the hairs on your arm almost in the way a magnet could attract an iron filing. Friction of your feet on the carpet would result in a charge build up which could spark from your fingertips onto a metal door handle and lightning was something similar to that. Lightning was simply a rather overzealous discharge of electricity due to cloud friction.

when two clouds love each other: lightning

Shout out to Benjamin Franklin for making the lightning conductor and his controversial kite experiment, which I doubt was actually conducted otherwise he was one lucky scientist for not getting fried by lightning.

 benjamin franklin flying kite in storm

After this lightning was less scary and I could explain away some crazy myths about lightning and laugh at my naiveté.

How on earth did I ever believe wearing something red increased my chances of being struck by lightning?

wearing red struck by lightning

I remember walking home from primary school with satchel that had red reflective highlights which were quite handy when you walking or cycling at night it made you easy to spot to drivers; only fools and ninjas wear black at night….

Long story short, one day walking home from school there was an out of the blue lightning storm. Every time there was a lightning flash I would shield the red bits of my bag so the lightning couldn’t see them and I would close my eyes so I could not see the lightning flash; it made sense at the time, but it was a long walk to freedom…

There’s no scientific link between wearing something red and being struck by lightning but even now at my big age I would rather not wear something red during a thunderstorm. Red for danger

red for danger

There’s a district in Zimbabwe; ZAKA which used to carry a certain underground notoriety for having the highest level of sorcery and witchcraft. Some would joke that ZAKA was an abbreviation for Zimbabwe African Killers Association. There’s a phrase Zaka rinopisa literally meaning Zaka is hot which could be in part, a nod at the hot Zaka weather in the low lying hot region enroute to the Lowveld or implying the level of mysticism as a hotspot for witchcraft.

zaka rinopisa zimbabwe
Zaka District Zimbabwe

Zaka used to have a very high prevalence for lightning related fatalities and it’s said some people could direct or send lightning because some lightning strikes seemed rather purposeful or intentioned like after an altercation with an individual one could get struck by lightning on a clear blue sky…

Until recently when constitution was amended, officially it did not recognise mysticism and the paranormal and there even used to be a Witchcraft Suppression Act 9:19, under which if you fingered someone for sorcery or accused them of bewitching you, you would be the one to end up in jail….

During a Geography lesson our teacher explained that the high prevalence of lightning in Zaka was due to several factors

  1. The sparse bushy vegetation of the region meant that human settlements were the tallest objects and also walking in the open plains meant you were tallest and most likely to be struck.
  2. The area’s rich red soils are an indicator of iron ore deposits, iron being a good conductor would definitely attract lightning strikes.

Our teacher also made an interesting postulation on how: what if some people knew of a certain iron rich rock which if planted on a person or location greatly increased the likelihood of a lightning strike….. Makes sense….

magic lightning rock

Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from witchcraft

The theory makes sense but our Geography teacher wasn’t the most reliable of sources considering that in the very next breathe he told us about how once upon a time he saw lightning zig zagging in a herd a cattle killing beast after beast after beast and then as it started to zig zag towards him; using his hands to elaborate how the lightning zigged and zagged and just when it was upon him, he ducked and the lightning sailed over his head (If that story is to be believed than he must have had very quick reflexes…. I wonder if it made a whistling sound as it flew over his head)

The cows that died had to buried, apparently, we don’t eat beef from cattle that have been struck by lightning.

Why oh why do we not partake of the meat of an animal that has been struck by lightning? It’s not like it’s contagious or anything; right? I mean apart from maybe the burnt flavor whats the worst that could happen? Could it suddenly reanimate in your stomach on a Dr Frankenstein’s monster tip and chew your insides? Imagine going to a doctor with a lacerated innards and the doctor will ask you

“Did you ever eat an animal that was killed by lightning?”

The places my mind goes to.

~B

PS I didnt understand a lot about lightning; until it hit me…. stay peeled for my next story about my shocking encounter with lightning

14 Comments

  1. I wanted to copy and paste the funny parts, then I realized everything was funny. I laughed and was like, what is Beaton saying?

    Random stories make me happy, very happy.

    I am afraid of lightning too, but no the flash, the thunder. Our tribe is afraid of red too, during the raining season. You should know how I am grinning.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahaha so what is Beaton saying?…. Sometimes I don’t know what I am saying until I read what I have written 😂😂😂

      It’s a curious journey waiting to see what I will write next 😂😂😂😂 but my next story isn’t quite so random it’s a lightning encounter I had I wanted to include it in this post but realised it needed some “back story” 😂😂

      You do know it’s the flash you should be worry about right? When you hear the thunder you must rejoice because it means you are still alive 😂😂😂

      What is it about the colour red?

      Traditional healers and spirit mediums also seem to have a liking for red pieces of cloth and red wrap fabric….

      ~B

      Like

      1. Random writing keeps the article alive. That is why I am able to read to the end…. Because I wonder what will come next.

        😂😂😂😂 Yes I know the flash is the one I should fear. I will visit the next piece hoping there is a formula for dodging lightning.

        I think our witch doctors wear brown, that is what I see in our movies.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent post, laughing out loud!! We get very few thunderstorms where we live that when one blows through it is quite the event!! We ooh and ahh! Look outside, see if we can see the lightening, count, one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand, until the next strike! I was told for each second away equals that many miles away the lightening/thunder is to your location. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s fun to count! I have to check on my dogs to make sure they are not afraid as that thunder sure can be loud and scare the animals! Very entertaining post, great job! 😃👍

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahaha it must be quite a spectacle oooohing and aaaahing at lightning flashes like they are a fireworks display 😂😂😂
      You will be happy to know that counting the seconds between when you see the lightning and when you hear the thunder can actually be used to calculate how far away the storm is from where you are…

      Light moves so much faster than sound so you will see the lightning first, when you count the seconds it takes to hear the thunder after the lightning flash and divide that by 5 you will get a very close approximation of how many miles away the storm is….

      Well we use the metric-conversion system I know sound travels at approximately 340metres per second so to find how many metres away the storm is I would multiply the seconds I got by 340…

      One Mississipi Two Mississipi Three Mississipi that’s how I was taught to space my counting so it coincides with real seconds ^_^

      So next time you have a storm you can dazzle your family with your now expert knowledge 😂😂😂

      You are welcome
      ~B

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      1. This is great information!! And thank you kindly for your help and understanding. I forgot you would be counting in meters not miles! We be so different here in the U.S.A.🤣🤣🤣

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Indeed the places your minds goes but we all have those strange ideas that seem to have just popped up. Red seems like a color to attract anything. The idea is that cops stop more red cars than any. Red is adventurous and reckless. No, I’ve never eaten that already half-cooked lightning struck cow. Side note is that I had friends who were standing near (not under a tree) when lightning struck it and felt that strike and had to be checked by a doctor. It’s dangerous and fascinating. I want to get a picture of it one day. It’s always too fast and unpredictable. But I’m going to start researching that thing about iron in areas and the stories your geography teacher put into young minds.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. So…. There’s something about the colour red…
      I bet the forbidden fruit would be a luscious red 🍎😊
      I have a friend who sells cosmetics and the most sold item is red lipstick…. 💄
      Danger is fascinating ⚠

      How does one take a picture of lightning? I think you must have a camera with ultra fast shutter speed and even then it’s probably more of a lucky shot you will probably have to press the button before the lightning flashes because by the time you see a spectacular flash it will already be too late to fully capture its majesty.

      ~B

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  4. Love the story of your fear of lightning. I have a granddaughter that is terrified of tornadoes. The minute a big cloud appears in the sky she is asking “is that a tornado?” Me – I love the storms – the lightning and thunder to me is such a display of the majesty of our Creator.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well now that I am older I have somewhat mastered my fear of lightning… I may even stare out the window and oooh and ahhhh at the lightning criss-crossing in the sky and pretend I am not unnerved by the rattling thunder that seems like it will break the window panes….

      Agreed they are an ode to the Creator

      ~B

      PS I am super glad you did stop by as promised 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  5. We used to live in Colorado Springs, Colorado State and they get huge amounts of lightening each year. While there I was working in a sky scrapper in down town just across from another sky scrapper when it was hit by lightening. We all thought our building had been bombed. It was so loud and everything shook. When we knew where to look for the strike, there was just a small part of stone at the corner of the building broken off where the bolt had ignored a nearby lightening rod to kill off that stone. Such a great place!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow that was definitely a close encounter with lightning did people run around like headless chicken trying to figure out what to do?

      Hold up how did you know where to look for the strike did someone see it? Or it was just a hunch?

      It seems sometimes lightning won’t necessarily strike with rhyme and reason, picking its target destination via some logic we will never truly understand

      ~B

      Like

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