Monday, November 30, 2009

Thunderstorms and lightning

Spent a couple of nights last week up in Ntabankulu near the southern end of the Drakensberg. We were treated to two of the most spectacular lightning and thunderstorms I've experienced in many years. They came booming in on massive dark grey clouds at twilight and battered everything else into submission and silence. It was awe-inspiring in the original sense of the word not the debased 'awesome' that is used to describe the most trivial of incidents. The saddest of all though is that when I got home on Thursday night I discovered that on the first night three huts were struck and four people died, including a baby, and on the second night another three people were killed by lightning. So far this November 18 people, including babies,children and old grannies have died in the area from lightning. It's no wonder the people in the area are so frightened of it and put rubber tyres planted with a sacred Gasteria plant on the top of the hut roofs to protect themselves against the terrifying lightning bird. When we live in westernised comfort we never get to really know the fear that people feel when exposed to nature at its most violent. No wonder Thor and Odin and other gods of thunder and lightning were revered and sacrificed to in the past. I'm afraid that climate change is going to make us all more familiar with the power of nature unleashed and out of balance.

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