July 23rd…“SHARE A MEMORY INVOLVING A MAJOR DELUGE WITH THUNDER & LIGHTNING.”
The majestic farmlands of Minnesota stretched for untold miles around us on that lovely summer’s evening. To the horizon, one could see the leafy- green bulwark of “windbreaks” that denoted family farms being granted shelter by those “treed arms” of protection. Windbreaks consisted of a thick canopy of deciduous and evergreen trees. Pioneers, who first “broke sod” here, generations ago, realized the prevailing wind patterns and would then plant row upon row of trees to the west and north of their home and farm buildings in order to give them some refuge from the onslaught of sometimes wild prairie weather. Yet, even with this emerald fortress in place, those mighty windbreaks could not completely protect south central Minnesota from what was about to hit us that night.
Late June of 1998 brought us, as a family, back home to where I had enjoyed my early years of farm life near my beloved hometown of Kiester, Minnesota. This was to be the first time our children could see and experience where their Norwegian daddy had grown up. We were delighted to be the guests, that day, at the quaint home of Mr. & Mrs. Evert Meyer who lived on Minnesota State Highway 22 about 2 miles, or so, north of town.
As the gentle rays of a Minnesota summer sun started to settle beneath the horizon of croplands, this old daddy and our four lovely daughters were helping our hostess by picking large, delicious raspberries from the Meyer’s impressive garden. Towards the end of that loving task, in the dimming shadows of nightfall, we started to see Fireflies “sparking” in the dusk around us. Remembering my childhood joys on our former farm near here, I had one of our daughters race inside the Meyer home to ask for a glass canning jar. Together, we captured quite a number of Lightning Bug “performers” in that jar and they colorfully put on a show for us, within the glass “stage”, as nighttime surrounded us with its curtain of shadows.
While our daughters hunted with glee for more of those flashy blinker bugs, I could hear and see flashes from the distant rumbling of thunder to the southwest of the Meyer’s property. A massive mountain of dark and foreboding clouds were migrating their curling hordes in our direction as the rumbles within them began to be more frequent and ominous. Remembering back to these ferocious storms, as a child, I felt it best to escort our darlings back into the Meyer’s sturdy farm home, rather than being exposed outdoors to what was likely to take place right over our heads.
Sure enough, shortly after reaching refuge inside their quaint little abode, the good Lord above unleashed what had been stored up in those celestial treasures above us. It is said that when you see a lightning flash in the sky, you should count “1 one thousand, 2 one thousand, etc.” until you hear the thunder. Then, that last number you counted is the approximate miles that the actual storm is from your location. Well, on THAT night, the flash and boom sequence quickly escalated to a knee-jerk FLASH-BANG!! right over our hostess home’s roof. And then came the rain! Not JUST rain, but it appeared that the very floodgates of Heaven had been opened up and a liquid pounding commenced upon the Meyer’s home and surrounding land. Ohhh myyy goodness, for the deluge that had been triggered over us!!! We all sat visiting in the Meyer family Living Room that evening, but we had to turn up the decibel level of our conversations in order to be heard above the colossal flashes and explosions happening just outside their Living Room’s picture window.
Once we settled our shaken and somewhat fearful children into bed, my wife and I climbed into the guest room bed to listen to Heaven’s rendition of Independence Day fireworks in the sky. For at least a few hours, our bedroom walls were bedazzled with the terrific flashes of intense light from each explosive volley in the sky above us. Our windows quaked in their frames with resonant harmony to the sound waves that catapulted themselves against this little fortress of a home.
“Is this EVER going to stop!!??”, asked my very unnerved wife. Even though she had been raised in the excitable weathers of Montana, this electrical storm experience brought a convulsive shudder with every aerial explosion that night.
Morning’s light seemed to have shooed this monster storm away from our locale. As we vacationers emerged from our bedrooms, we were greeted cheerily by our loving hosts as Oda and Evert sat us down around their bright kitchen table for a tasty breakfast and further visiting. The Meyers shared with us that local news reports enlightened us all to the fact that in just ONE NIGHT, Faribault County had endured over FOUR INCHES of rain!!!! That was one very memorable cloudburst for himself and the family of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.