Thunderbolts and Lightning

Contributed by Donald Walker (copyright)

Here is another tale from my creel! As organizer of my works fishing club, it usually fell to me, to go the evening before a match, to peg out the riverbank with numbered sticks. This was done to reserve the length, to show other fishermen that a match was to be fished there. It was quite a nuisance to have to trail out, especially if it was some distance away, so I usually took my fishing tackle and had an hours fishing to make it feel worthwhile. I took a friend with me to help with the job and as we arrived at the venue it was raining hard. So hard in fact that we couldn't get out of the car. Half an hour later, conditions had not improved and I would venture to say that it had actually got worse. Now it was thundering & lightning and also starting to get darker. It was decision time - so we decided to get our fishing umbrellas out and go down to the river. These umbrellas are huge and you can practically get inside them so, armed with the pegging equipment, we set off across the field, hanging on for dear life.

The umbrellas acted like parachutes in the gusty wind and then suddenly there was an almighty flash and a bang. Right before our eyes a tree in the centre of the field was struck by lightning, It peeled apart like a banana, crashing down in a cloud of smoke and sparks. Our hair was standing on end in the highly charged atmosphere. We were dumfounded, nay, frightened - all that raw power of nature! It makes the ordinary things of life seem trivial or insignificant.

We realised standing there, the danger we could be in. The umbrella poles we were holding were made of metal, just the lightning conductor these conditions were looking for. We dropped the umbrellas as if they were red hot and ran down to the river, anxious to be finished with the job in hand. Wet, we didn't care!

Later we sat before a big log fire, drying off in a local pub. We drank to our lucky escape. Ironically the next day when we arrived at the river for the match, there wasn't a peg to be seen. The water had risen overnight and washed all the pegs away!

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