Friday, 8 July 2011

No, That's Not An Airplane, That's Thunder

This evening we've had some spectacular storms ripping through here. It's one of those things that I miss about Indiana...the regular storms in the summer. They're rare here in England. We get lots of wind and rain, but very rarely thunder and lightening. They're rare enough that it's the first time that the Imp has had to ask what they were. We had several huge hits of thunder, and she asked 'Is that an airplane?' with the most confused expression, like she understood that it wasn't the right sound for the jets that practice over our house. We live near several RAF bases, and last weekend the closest base had their annual air show, so we had a week of the USAF Thunderbirds, the RAF Red Arrows, and others all practising in the airspace over Lincoln. I had two or three afternoons that I struggled to hear anything because of the two hours of sonic booms. Not that I mind, I enjoy watching them.

But because my 3 1/2 year old Imp is now clever enough to distinguish that the sound wasn't right for those sonic booms, she asked. When I was small, we were always told that it was the angels bowling. When the imp asked me, I was in the middle of cooking our dinner and multitasking by thinking of what I was going to put into today's blog post. I was thinking that Thor would be quite fitting, to match the weather. So, the answer off the top of my head to her was that it was Thor throwing Mjollnir. It was obviously the answer she was looking for. She tried the words out a few times until she was happy that she was saying them correctly, then danced off giggling. That's my need to be afraid of a storm. I actually found her a few minutes later watching out the front window with a smile on her face.

The Norse told their children a very similar thing to what I've told the Imp tonight. They believed that during a thunderstorm, Thor rode in a chariot pulled by a pair of goats, Tanngrisni and Tanngnost. The lightening was Thor throwing his hammer, Mjollnir, that had been made for him by dwarves, and the hammer returning to him. The thunder was Mjollnir actually striking it's target.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem honouring this popular aesir:

The Challenge of Thor

I am the God Thor, 
I am the War God, 
I am the Thunderer! 
Here in my Northland, 
My fastness and fortress, 
Reign I forever! 
Here amid icebergs 
Rule I the nations; 
This is my hammer, 
Miƶlner the mighty; 
Giants and sorcerers 
Cannot withstand it! 

These are the gauntlets 
Wherewith I wield it, 
And hurl it afar off; 
This is my girdle; 
Whenever I brace it, 
Strength is redoubled! 

The light thou beholdest 
Stream through the heavens, 
In flashes of crimson, 
Is but my red beard 
Blown by the night-wind, 
Affrighting the nations! 
Jove is my brother; 
Mine eyes are the lightning; 
The wheels of my chariot 
Roll in the thunder, 
The blows of my hammer 
Ring in the earthquake! 

Force rules the world still, 
Has ruled it, shall rule it; 
Meekness is weakness, 
Strength is triumphant, 
Over the whole earth 
Still is it Thor's Day! 

Thou art a God too, 
O Galilean! 
And thus singled-handed 
Unto the combat, 
Gauntlet or Gospel, 
Here I defy thee!

It really warmed my heart that the Imp found joy in watching a storm. It is something that I've always enjoyed.  There's so much strength and energy that it channels. I was tempted to step outside to watch, but the pea-sized hail took care of that. So, instead I enjoyed the rumpling and sparkling from my kitchen as I finished cooking with the Imp's assistance, and her giggling and pointing out 'That's Shiny!', which has been one of her favourite phrases over the past couple of days. 

Now to find a children's translation of the Eddas, preferably on Kindle. I've not found one yet, but I'll keep searching. I think that she would truly enjoy it.




Kitty said...

Ooooo.. a shiny!

I love that you told Imp it was Thor. It was an amazing storm wasnt it. Killed my Sky for a while which was fun. I actually had to think for a while :O

Melissa Wheeler said...

We lost Sky for quite a while. I'm just so glad that she loved it. The cats were a bit skitzy, especially Loki.

Thinking is a good thing. I was cooking dinner and talking my way through what I was going to blog about :P