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Heat Lightning

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I am at our new home in Edinburg, Texas. Louise is in Foristell, Mo., with the motor home. We've been meeting in the evenings via phone to catch up on the day's happenings. I was hoping to be able to tell her I would be leaving in the morning to join her, but construction continues on our home. At the end of the day when all has quieted down, I have been enjoying the evening on the porch of our manufactured home.

We have been staying at Sandpipers Resort in Edinburg for nine winters now. They call us Winter Texans and it is not a derogatory term when people here in the Rio Grande Valley call us that. We are an essential part of the economy of the valley. Every year 50,000 or so of us assemble in a wide variety of RV parks. Many people have mobile homes here in these parks. Louise and I are now among them. We figured if we're going to keep coming back here we might as well live comfortably while here. So we moved a manufactured home onto our lot in May. We've been busy turning it into a home. Weather this year has been quite wet and this has delayed much of the concrete work. Anyway, here I am, no longer a Winter Texan; I'm a Summer Texan! Boy do I know it. I can work until about 2:00 in the afternoon and then I'm shot for the day. Anything else I accomplish is a bonus.

Anyway, back to the porch. We have friends who have built porches on the front of their manufactured homes. We ordered ours with a porch. It's just 8 feet by 18 feet but it is a great place to enjoy an evening. This evening after talking to Louise I was thinking about sitting on the porch on a summer evening. I remember in my childhood, way too long ago, sitting on my grandparents' porch in the evening. We lived on the other side of town so we frequently spent an evening with my mother's parents. They lived on a farm north of Warrenton, Missouri, where I was raised. In those days, we had no idea what was happening over the horizon. The news and weather information was quite different from today. We used to see meteors, occasionally. Once in a great while we'd see an aurora.

One of the things we saw frequently in the Midwestern summer was called heat lightning. I saw heat lightning this evening. It always happened on those hot summer evenings. You could see flashes of lightning in the sky, kind of like a flash bulb (remember those?) going off somewhere behind the neighbors house. I never knew it by any other name than heat lightning.

This evening I checked the Weather Bug and the thunderstorm I was seeing was near Monterrey, Mexico. Almost 100 miles away, well beyond the distance where I would see clouds but the flashes of lightning were still visible here in Edinburg, Texas. I thought of the heat lightning of my childhood and how things had changed. Now I could look on the internet and find the exact location of that lightning I was seeing in the southwestern sky. But more than that, I realized why I enjoy sitting out on the porch and enjoying a warm summer evening. I was raised doing exactly that. What was a good experience in childhood remains satisfying in old age.

Does anyone even use the term heat lightning anymore or is that a now extinct term? There really is no such thing as heat lightning. We're really just seeing the flashes of lightning from distant thunderstorms. I think of the term as a reflection of a time when things beyond our horizon were totally out of reach. It was an innocent age, those flashes of heat lightning could have been someones severe thunderstorm but we didn't know that. Nature's fireworks, heat lightning. Get outside and watch the evening sky. If you are in the Midwest, you'll see heat lightning!

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