Being a native of the prairies and not BC born and raised, there were some things I had to get used to when I first moved here. Some adjustments were easy; how green it stayed all year, the beautiful snow-capped mountains, and the fact that you could get by without owning a pair of long underwear.

But there were a few things that I found weren’t such an easy adjustment.

There were no outdoor skating rinks to be enjoyed. The mountains, though beautiful, felt like they were closing in on me and, as I expressed to one horrified BCer, they blocked my view of the wide-open sky. I missed the sunshine and brightness of a white world. But one of the biggest adjustments I had to make was the relentless rain and the absence of a good ole’ thunderstorm.

Shake and Rattle

Growing up, a thunderstorm was something to get excited about, as long as you weren’t camping in a tent or caught on the soccer field. You ran for cover as the torrential downpour began and finding a cozy spot near a window, you could enjoy a terrific display of God’s tremendous power as it roared and flashed through the heavens above you. The flashes of lightning that streaked through the sky were awe inspiring and the cracks of thunder could shake and rattle you to your core.

I remember waking up in the middle of the night to raging storms, opening my curtains and laying all snug in my bed feeling nothing but wonder and excitement. But though they could last for an hour or two, they eventually moved on and the sun would peek out on a drippy but refreshed world.

As a new resident to Abbotsford, there were many times when I saw the grey skies moving in and got excited as I anticipated a cozy evening with a cup of tea and a book. I would hear that rumble in the distance and my heart would start to beat faster with anticipation. And I’d wait…and wait…and wait…NOTHING?! That’s it?!! Where was the booming and the roaring? Where were the flashes that practically blinded you if you were staring too intensely? Where was the torrential downpour that emptied the skies by the bucketful? Instead all I got was the teasing of a faint rumble and a slight flash somewhere hidden in clouds and some measly drizzle that took a week to finally drain away those clouds. To say I was let down was an understatement. All I wished for was one jaw dropping, rip roaring thunderstorm to share with my poor deprived BC grown children and husband.

Be careful what you wish for.

Perfectly Safe?

For years I’ve told the boys of the excitement of real prairie thunderstorm. I’ve talked it up and promised that it’ll be a day to remember.

A few weeks ago, as I sat calmly face-timing my oldest son with my husband and older boys, I heard the all familiar teasing of a distant rumble. I paid it no mind as I carried on my conversation. But much to my surprise, it rumbled again and quite quickly in succession. Within a couple minutes, the torrential rains began, and the lightning show I had dreamed of for 20+ years began.

I was so excited. My family—not as much.

My little boys came tearing out of their bedroom after hearing a crash that rattled the pictures on the walls and seeing a flash, they were certain was aimed directly at our neighbours. They both crawled onto my lap and told me, “Mom, I don’t like this.”

I laughed and said, “No, it’s fun. Just listen and watch. You’ll love it! We’re perfectly safe.”

But as the words left my lips, the thunder boomed in complete unison with the lightning and our house emitted the strangest loud “POP” we had ever heard.

The entire Brandsma family froze in their seats with Caleb looking on through the iPhone.

The next few seconds our brains tried to catch up to what our senses had already told us—that was no ordinary clap of thunder. What in the world happened? What had made that crazy pop? And what in the world do we do? As our brains started to process the sensory overload, we began to question whether we had just been hit by lightning. That sort of thing doesn’t happen in BC. What are the chances when I hadn’t seen a real streak of lightning in 20 years?  We’re surrounded by mountains and tall trees, how in the world could our lowly little rancher get struck?

And then a text came from our neighbour, “Are you guys okay? I think you were hit by lightning!” Reality set in fast. The storm continued to rage on around us but the storm inside was just as chaotic as Steve and Drew ran throughout the house looking for any signs of damage or evidence of fire. We didn’t dare exit the house to take a better look. The little boys were stuck to me like glue, every flash in the night sky causing them to jump and bury their heads deeper into my sweater. And my brain was in overdrive trying to remember if I’d ever learned what to do if your house got hit by lightning. Nope. I came up empty. Not a scenario I was in the least prepared for.

It took some time for the storm inside and out to subside. What at first was shock and horror soon became an exciting story of heroism and bravery to retell from everyone’s different perspective. We had faced death and come out the victor! We were fearless, well, most of us, save Levi who was still not so willing to be unglued from my side. We were warriors! Maybe mom was right after all; thunderstorms were fun and exciting.

But those feeling of bravado and victory died a fast death when Drew turned on the TV to check the news. Huh? Why doesn’t the TV work? Wait, we have no WiFi? What, our phones are dead? And as we added the oven, the hot tub, the equipment in the barn, the DVD player, the Wii and the…to the list, our story telling stopped. Well, this stunk. Not only did mom’s promised excitement scare the pants off us but now we were going to be forced to live in the stone ages?! The accusing glares were almost more than I could bare.

Stick It

The next morning as we headed to church, Levi was still on edge and repeatedly checking the sky, when he noticed where the lightning had struck. It put a hole in our kitchen roof and then blew out the side of the house, pushing the fascia off as it exited. There was no denying it now.

I’m not sure if I’ve destroyed my boys’ faith in me for all time. My obsession with thunderstorms lives on. I’m simply too marveled by the majesty and power to be put off completely. But one thing I know, my family are all confirmed BC boys and they made it fairly clear where I could stick my prairie thunderstorms.

And so, did I learn a lesson? Yep. Be careful what you wish for.

And…when you need to replace half the appliances in your house, swap the tiny little relic from the living room with an over-sized flat screen from Costco. It goes a long way to buying back that love and affection from your 5 boys.

I’m back in the good books.