How Thunder Sounds


Since I love thunderstorms, this caught my eye.  If you love the poetic magic of playing with words, you’ll enjoy it. 


How the Thunder Sounds

Published: July 5, 2009                             New York Times

For the past month, late-afternoon thunderstorms have coasted across this farm with an almost reassuring regularity. After three or four storms in as many afternoons, they seem almost domesticated — an aunt or uncle stopping in for a surly tea but leaving the air surprisingly refreshed in the aftermath. While the storm was building one day, I found myself thinking of new words, a new lexicon, to imagine the march of those storms. As the skies darkened around teatime once again, I could have sworn I heard crumpeting in the distance.

It is late afternoon as I write. There is blundering beyond the tree line. Soon the tuberous blunderheads trundle over the horizon; they begin to “wampum, wampum, wampum” until at last they’re vrooming nearby, just down the valley. Or perhaps they’re harrumphing and oomphing, from the very omphalos of the storm. Onomatopoeia is such a delicate thing.

But as the clouds tumble into position directly overhead, the sound changes, as does the color of the day. Suddenly the air is grackling, dark and furious in its plumage. The lightning and thunder begin to come as one — ZEBU! ZEBU! — drowning out the wishing of the rain and the concurring of the wind, which turns the maple leaves white-side up. Hail begins to adder on the skylights, and soon the only light left in the world is the sickly green of the storm’s hunkering belly. The roar in my ear is the sound of the gravel road toshing away, worsing downhill and forming a lake on the highway. Water runs in revels and midriffs through the pasture, where the horses stand indifferent to the caucus around them.

And then, just like that it’s over, only a bumbling far to the east, a last snicker of lightning. The sun gloats in the sky, casting a gleam on the pasture where there was so much umbering and ochreing only moments before. The static electricity of the day has been discharged, and with it the linguistic oddness I have been feeling. The storm, I realize, has left me ravenous, hungry as a raven.

Love that last paragraph!  Since I once dabbled in oil painting, I especially love the term “umbering and ochreing.”  Such a great description!

And right now I am feeling a bit umberish…or maybe sienna.  I could definitely use some cadmium yellow in my day to brighten things up. 



About dayuntoday

I'm a wonderer. I spend a lot of time mulling, pondering, and cogitating. This is just a place to park some of those thoughts.
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7 Responses to How Thunder Sounds

  1. Beautiful!  I love this!

  2. fwren says:

    “Suddenly the air is grackling, dark and furious in its plumage.” caught my eye ~ I wonder why ~

  3. cerwindoris says:

    You described it so beautifully.  I loved your descriptive words.

  4. sunshine1939 says:

    Could almost hear the thunder rumble across the skies!!!!!!!

  5. homefire says:

    @cerwindoris – just to be clear–I didn’t write it!  Wish I had, though. 

  6. BooksForMe says:

    Oh, I love thunderstorms, too.  The skies are darkening here as I write, and I was just telling Hannah this has been the best summer ever—so many wonderful storms.  This is quite a piece!  

  7. Continue to enjoy nature and God in your life.  Be good, Be blessed always. 

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