Friday, February 20, 2015

The Thunderstorm

Mulholland Light
seen from Lubec
“Mason, Mason are you awake?” Mason's husband urgently whispered to her, “Do you hear that? It sounds like crashing surf.”  The inside of the little Apache tent camper lit up with a lightening flash, immediately followed by loud rolling thunder. “Do you think the others will be alright?” was the pressing question on Mason's lips.

Tucked in a spruce grove at Herring Cove Provincial Park on Campobello Island,  Mason, her husband, mother and youngest daughter were together in the tent camper. Her son was sleeping in the back of the station wagon down the hill, while in the adjacent tent were family friends. The flashes of lightening and accompanying peals of thunder sounded like a giant tramping through the campground as the rain intensely poured onto the canvas. One flash and clap were simultaneous, indicating the storm was directly overhead, and had struck something very close by.

FDR Memorial Bridge
Mason didn't go to Campobello Island as a child; although she saw it daily across the narrows (barring a fog bank) it was a distant, foreign land to her. It was only after she was married that she ever stepped foot on it. With the new FDR Memorial Bridge built, connecting the United States to Canada, it was much easier to visit. Frequently, Mason and her family chose to camp on the island during their summer vacations. Herring Cove was a family favorite, with a black sand beach, rock outcroppings and woods to explore. Drinking water was drawn from a pump and toilets were pit, but from the campsite the beach and the ocean Mason loved, was a short walk away.

Campobello Island from the top
of West Quoddy Head Lighthouse
The next morning dawned bright and clear as the storm had “scrubbed” the air clear of humidity and resulting fog. Mason’s husband, being the consummate cook and outdoors man made a “woodsman’s breakfast” of eggs, bacon, home fries and toast. Grand Manan, and the U.S. mainland looked close enough to touch as the ocean reflected the bright blue, cloudless sky. Breakfast conversation was solely about the storm. Mason’s son had come up to the camper at first light, frantic as to what he would find. Relieved at finding everything as it should be, he related his frightful saga. Awakened by the intense thunder and white flashes of lightening he had peered out the car windows up to the camper. The wind was wild, tossing tree branches and anything not tied down around like a child’s toy. As a flash of lightening illuminated his surroundings, he looked to the camper and froze, it was on fire!  He was horrified 
Fish Weirs on Campobello
knowing he couldn't get out the car due to the storm, oh what was he to do?  As morning dawned it was discovered what he thought had been a fire was nothing more than a pink table cloth, hung to dry off the camper’s canopy with a Coleman lantern glowing behind. The “tent dwellers” had fared well, stating they had given thought to making a run for the car, but had stuck it out due to the severity of the rain. And as for that one close strike, the pump handled water spigot and the large overhead arc lamp, illuminating the pump area, took a direct hit; leaving both inoperable.

I was just a small child and barely remember this storm and trip. What I do remember is being curled up to my grandmother’s back safe from the outside danger. My mother relates that when they went to see Aunt Hazel on the mainland in South Lubec, mom was surprised to learn that Aunt Hazel never heard or saw the horrendous storm that tromped through the campground. Mom remembers this storm as the worst she has ever experienced; marking all others by this one.

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