Summertime trick or treat
Saturday was one of those golden days that are a perfect summertime treat - the kind that makes you want to go outside and take advantage of it.
So my husband and I got on our bikes for a fairly long ride. While we were riding I asked him if he ever had the childhood joy of running outside just because it was raining, then jumping through puddles that formed in the gutters.
While we talked about that, I pointed to the big, fluffy clouds about us. I asked if he saw any storm clouds we had to worry about.
No storm clouds. Just a picture-perfect day, he assured me.
When we were 9 miles away from home on a sparsely populated county road, the raindrops started. Just a short sun shower, my husband assured me. Keep riding.
A little rain turned into a big rain, then into hammering rain. When you're on a bike with no protection, those big, fat raindrops feel like you're being pelted with rocks.
But, hey, once you're that wet you figure you can't get any wetter. So you keep riding. Not that there was any choice, because there was no place to seek shelter.
Suddenly, we were faced with a summertime trick, not a treat.
Thunder and lightning cracked through the air, frightening me into riding faster in an effort to find shelter. When we came to an empty house, we stayed under the roof overhang until the storm passed.
Or, so we thought.
We no sooner biked another mile before the sky opened up again and the thunder was louder.
David said I rode faster and better than I ever did in my life. It's amazing how much strength we gain when adrenaline shoots through our body and we're afraid of being hit by lightning.
When we finally got safely home, we could laugh about our trick-or-treat kind of day.
"It's good to have adventures like this," my husband claimed.
His comments reminded me of my friend Andy who took 30 of us on the river for a pontoon party. A convoy of boats created a festive party until the sky darkened.
As soon as it did, the captain of one of the boats turned around for home. A short while later we were all wishing we would have done the same thing.
We didn't mind the driving rain and wind. It wasn't until lightning was added to the mix that we all wanted to be anywhere except out on the water.
Three boats filled with anxiety-ridden partygoers squeezed under a bridge to wait out the weather.
One woman used her smartphone to call up the local weather where we could see bands of storms were going to keep coming at us.
There was no choice but to make a run for it when the rain slackened a little.
"When you're out in weather like this, you call it scary," our captain said. "When it's all over and you're safely home, you call it an adventure."
He's right about that.
But let me tell you those two experiences gave me my fill of being out in bad storms and lightning.
Sunday after church it looked like another perfect summer day. But my husband pointed to a mass of fluffy clouds, saying they were storm clouds. We canceled our kayak trip and went home to wait for the storm.
It never came.
But when you live in the lightning capital of the world, a summer treat can quickly turn into a mean trick of Mother Nature.
There's an old expression that says, "better safe than sorry." I think it's better to get out of the pool at the first sound of thunder than it is to take a chance.
My next-door neighbor, on the other hand, says he has lived in Florida all his life and has never gotten out of the pool when he hears thunder.
"Nine times out of 10, it's nothing to worry about," he says.
What about the one time when it is a problem? Too late to worry?
This week our little area made the national nightly news when an alligator attacked a man hired by our local golf course to retrieve golf balls from the ponds on the course.
Big and strong, he did an incredible job of beating off the attacking 600-pound alligator, escaping with only a seriously chewed arm.
"Why was he in that pond when he knew alligators were there?" neighbors wondered.
It's his job, his family explained. He has been going into ponds with alligators for more than 20 years because he is paid by the golf courses to retrieve golf balls.
For 20 years, it wasn't a problem.
Until it was.
The poor victim, who is the father of seven children, had to be flown by helicopter to a major trauma center, where he was in surgery for several hours.
The pond behind my house is near where he was attacked. I often see kids in there looking for golf balls. I try to chase them away, warning them about the alligators.
Some listen to me. Most don't.
Maybe after all that publicity this week about the alligator attack more will heed the warning to stay out of alligator-infested water.
As for me, in all circumstances, I'd rather be called a "scared baby" than a victim.
Contact Pattie Mihalik at email@example.com.