When I was a child, every couple of years, we would travel across this amazing country by car. My family had a home in New London, Connecticut and we would spend the summer there on the beach and Ocean Beach Park playing miniature golf or skeeball. If you can imagine traveling five days, before the interstate freeway system, in a 1957 Dodge Custom Royal with two preteen boys… well the prospect gives me the shivers and I was one of those boys!
Rather than youthful energy turning violent in the cars confines, my Mother and Father would include visits to various sites and natural wonders along the way so we could stretch our legs and vent the pent-up energy. Still, there were many more hours in the car so playing cards, board games and my personal favorite, car bingo, filled our time.
But I learned that watching the changing and at times violent weather, while crossing the Great Plains, fascinating! And though I was unable to physically stretch, the changing shape and color of the clouds above the huge horizontal landscape, stretched my imagination.
It started with my Mother pointing to a cloud and declaring what she saw. Lining up on her shoulder to look down her arm, we would try to see the rabbit, bear or deer she saw and then the game was afoot. Each of us pointing and chiming in with our own cast of cloud characters.
On days with clouds threatening heavy rain, tornadoes or hale, we saw colorful animals of all types running from the dark threat of thunderheads and anvil clouds. Whether these characters escaped or were consumed by the threat, the distraction seemed to help defuse the real threat the weather watch or warning we shared with them.
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