A Lesson from Thunder Chicken

This is Thunder Chicken.

He is my little ball of fluff Pomeranian. His name is Griffin. And he is fearless. Until it comes to thunderstorms. That’s the short story of how he got his nickname.

I live in Madison, Ohio, a small town on the shores of Lake Erie, about forty miles east of Cleveland and far away from the tragic events that happened in Boston yesterday.  Like everyone else in America, I am speechless with grief and sorrow for those killed and injured. But this essay is not about Boston.

It was sprinkling this morning as we sat on the front porch and waited for the school bus to arrive. My daughter played contently with her Hello Kitty umbrella, showing me the steps for her upcoming dance recital. My six-and-a-half year old son sat quietly next to me on our wicker love seat and watched the rain. A flash of lightening streaked across the sky that he didn’t notice. The following thunder caught him off guard.

“It’s okay, Colt. It’s just thunder. It happens this time of year. It’s not going to hurt you,” I reassured him. “April showers bring May flowers.

It’s still scary,” he mumbled. I hugged him and did my best to remind him I would protect him always.

“What about Griffin?” he whispered.

“What about him?” I asked.

“Well, he’s scared of thunder, too.”  Indeed, in the last strong storm, the windows rattled and power flicked, setting Thunder Chicken into a barking frenzy that lasted a good half hour.

“I’ll take care of Griffin, too,” I promised. Just then the bus pulled up. He waved and ran off, fighting with his sister over who had more coverage under the umbrella the entire way down the drive. I waved back, grabbed my coffee mug, and decided I should probably check on Thunder Chicken like I promised.

Griffin was still in the backyard from his morning ‘business’ trip. He loved to be outside, especially now that the weather was warming up.  I felt bad for leaving him out in the rain while the kids were waiting for the bus. I expected him to be cowering on  covered deck, hiding from the storm under the furniture. Another flash of lightening light up the gray morning sky. I opened the door and called him in. There, laying in the middle of the yard and gnawing on a large stick that had fallen from one of the tall maples, he looked up at me briefly at the sound of his name, and then, in true Pomeranian fashion, ignored me. He was soaked but determined to reduce the branch to mulch. The sharp clap of thunder caught me off-guard, making me jump. I opened the door wider so Thunder Chicken could high-tail it inside. To my surprise, he didn’t budge. He clamped his jaw down on the stick as the ground vibrated from the force of the thunder and then hastily continued on his mission of annihilation.

thunderchickenAbout ten minutes later with the stick in ruins, he scratched on the door to come inside. He has taken up residence under the kitchen table where I’m working and writing, barking occasionally when the windows shake from the resonant thunder.

So that’s it? Where’s the lesson? This is just a story about a stupid dog chewing up a stick in the rain, isn’t it? Well, on the surface, yes. Dig deeper.

Thunderstorms are part of life; my son is simply another child trying to grow up in a scary world. My little dog has nothing to do with terrorists or jihad, and I could live anywhere. This essay is really about Boston.

There are things in this world that scare us.  Like thunder, we may be able to predict it coming, but there will be times that we are still caught off guard. We have it within us to push past that fear and accomplish the things we are determined to accomplish. 

The rain will pass. The clouds will lift. The sun will shine again. Another storm will eventually come. Like Thunder Chicken, we can choose to run or hold our ground until the job is done.

I would stand in the rain for Boston. I’m pretty sure there isn’t a person in this country who wouldn’t give up their umbrella today. And that’s the short story of why we are Americans.