A solid-looking wall of steely clouds rolled in ruthlessly from the west like a column of invading tanks, then came to a standstill right above our house. Suddenly the world was dark and — for a little while — very still.
Standing in the kitchen with our three-year-old son, overlooking the garden through the large terrace windows, I remembered the news warning about remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo coming to pay a visit to our latitudes. If a trifle tired, having crossed over from the other side of the Atlantic, the disheveled storm was said to be still bordering on the irate.
The natural spectacle opened up with style by way of a battery of lightning bolts. I think that our little boy initially (that is the first few seconds) enjoyed the fireworks, but the inevitable clap of the thunder that followed positively scared him out of his wits. He screamed and ran to me, trying — unsuccessfully needless to say — to curl up and completely hide under my right armpit.
The world outside alternated between pitch black or stroboscopic silver and I could not help but revel in the beauty of the unbound natural forces managing to corner in a flock of the arrogant human species for at least a passing moment.
Not so much our little boy. He kept shouting something from behind me and, as I registered with surprise, he was now overcome with anger rather than with fear. He was apparently furious at the rampant noise outside. Only after a while I deciphered his words... Using my shoulder as a battle shield he shouted at the racket outside: "no, mister must stop, he must not make noise!"
With awe, I realized that my little son was not just intuitively personifying the natural phenomenon, he also attributed it a male essence, and he talked to it demanding it to change its attitude and stop doing whatever unpleasant it did!
It was touching as well as a bit amusing, not the least because our son's name is Thor. Somehow it was all right that he tried to tame the thunderstorm!
Later on, having calmed the child and with the deep rumbling of thunder fading in the distance, I could not help thinking how our ancestors, only a few hundred generations ago, experienced similar emotions, and — in a number of cultures — elaborated the idea of powerful gods reigning up above, in heaven. Deities such as Thor, Zeus / Jupiter, Perun, and Indra, among many, were the commanders of thunder and lightning.
Strijdersstraat 35, Sint-Agatha-Berchem, Belgium
October 21, 2014, December 9, 2014, December 27, 2014, December 28, 2014
ENGLISH ARTICLEFEBRUARY 24, 2024 AT 23:05:16 UTC