The line dividing Sunday afternoon's severe thunderstorm warning to the south from a more northerly watch passed directly through Chariton, nearly as I could tell, and I was in the garden trying to keep ahead of weeds when dark clouds rolled in from the southwest.
Although there was no lightning --- yet --- the constant low rumble of distant thunder suggested that it wasn't too far away.
The back yard, hemmed in by trees, houses and power lines, is not an especially good place to watch the sky --- but it dawned on me finally that a better view could be had from Pin Oak Marsh, where the sky opens up.
By the time I got there, however, light rain had begun and lightning was snapping and crackling closer to home --- so I didn't stay long, sheltering under signature pin oaks and ignoring conventional wisdom: Don't stand under a tree during a thunderstorm. But you can get something of an idea from these snapshots.
The approaching storm --- darkening sky and rolling thunder --- set off a minor, not unpleasant, bout of homesickness. Mostly, I think, because I grew up in a house with porches, first two and then three, suitable for storm-watching.
The east porch overlooked Valley View Farm's valley, hickory hill to the right, Chariton River in the distance; the south porches, wooded pastures beyond the garden and then the southwestern sky. It was the practice to arrange the lawn chairs on one or another porch and watch summer storms roll in, retreating inside only when the lightning got too close for comfort or wind began to whip the rain. It didn't take much to entertain us back in those days.
Neighbors were watching, too --- Carl, Margaret and Doris Cottrell on the hill to the north with Grandpa McGill, Hansel Linville and Joy White beyond; more Linvilles down the valley to the east; the Sam Kelso family on its hill; all those Vincents with Grandpa Barker as a bonus to the south; and, to the southwest, Dorothy, Linden and Linda Mae Allard.
Six of those home places by now have vanished and many of the people who once occupied them are gone, too. Some days, it seems as if an entire way of life vanished with them, and maybe it did.
I'm grateful that I still remember when summer storms roll in.