A PERFECT THROW
By Oliver T. Spedding
Copyright 2012 Oliver T. Spedding
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To the very young, time has little significance and events seem to flow together in an unending sequence. Dates are of no consequence, except perhaps for birthdays, and happenings are more often related to seasons, animals and people, than to time itself.
We rarely, if ever, went away during the Christmas or summer holidays. The family as a rule went down to the seaside for the July holidays and this was especially appreciated because we missed practically a whole month of the Highveld winter. And who, in their right mind, would want to miss the wonderful Highveld summers? Even more so if you’re eight years old and your best and closest friends were also staying at home for the holidays. The weather on the Highveld at this time of the year is magnificent. Long, hot days, more often than not with a thunderstorm in the late afternoon, so that the following morning the whole world wakes up fresh and clean. I loved those late afternoon thunderstorms. During the afternoon, you could see the mighty cumulus building up in the west, white and billowy. The sun burned down and every now and then a soft breeze would spring up in a half-hearted attempt to challenge the dominating heat that blanketed the Highveld. Slowly, the great bank of cloud would grow larger and larger, soaring thousands of metres into the clear cyanic sky and seeming to frighten away all the smaller clouds. Silently the great mass moved closer, its base growing darker with every passing minute. People could be seen glancing towards the west with its giant mound of condensation, endeavoring to gauge the moment of its arrival, before hurrying away to complete whatever they planned to do before the great storm’s onset. The huge mass would quietly clear its throat in a gentle rumble of thunder, as if to announce its presence to the mortals below as they hurried to complete their tasks timeously. The first flicker of lightning would dart out of the dark base of the great monster, followed shortly after by a rumble of thunder. I had been told by some well-read older boy that it was possible to estimate how far away the lightning was by counting from when you saw the lightning flash until you heard the thunder and then dividing that number by three. The resulting integer would tell you how many kilometers away the lightning was. We soon became experts at telling where the storm was at any particular instance although there were often arguments about how fast to count.