South Georgia has impressive lightning storms. They are usually brief, lasting no more than half an hour or so, and sometimes it seems they last only a few moments. Three, four, maybe a half dozen good flashes, some serious thunder, and a hard rain that pretends to fill up swimming pools, is suddenly gone, the sun comes back out, the rainwater turns into streams, and it’s like nothing ever happened here at all. Except instead of the humidity being 100% it’s 110%. And hotter.
Sometimes we get lightning storms that last for an hour or so and at that point some electrical device is going to die. In the nineteen years I’ve lived at Hickory Head, the well has been hit three times, I’ve lost a refrigerator, an oven, a couple of light outlets, and some wall outlets. Also, my direct wired smoke detectors were hit last year.
Before you tell me you’re an electrician, and that electricity doesn’t behave the way I’ve described, first tell me you that I live in a place where lightning is frequent. Surge protectors, breakers, and other such devices are there to tell you lightning works well beyond human construction.
As I was saying, the direct wired smoke detectors died, and with them, the wiring. Lightning is a very, very, very, strange creature. I’m not prone to believing in the supernatural, or being a fan of mysticism, but I am here to tell you this very day, lightning has a mind of its own.
All of this led to Mom buying battery operated smoke detectors for the house when she moved in. All things changed when Mom arrived, and one of the very first was Budlore Amadeus, the Dog Left Hanging, became the self appointed body guard of The Mom. Does he take this job too seriously sometimes? Yes, he does, but at the same time, I can accept a little strangeness in the name of a fifty-five pound Chow/Pit mix who frightens strangers. Bud isn’t interested in sorting things out; that’s my job. He’s there to let me know that something different has happened and it’s a threat to The Mom until I tell him to stand down.
At three in the morning, the battery dies in one of the smoke detectors. It’s high pitched scream of death, repeated at regular intervals, hits Budlore Amadeus in his wheel house. For this, Bud was born. Whatever it is, it’s different, and his call to arms is answered, and repeated, by every canine in the house. I don’t hear the smoke alarm’s first screech. All I hear is four dogs, in the darkness, acting like the Manson Family has arrived. I, too, have to react.
I have the ancient, but efficient and wholly deadly twelve gauge double barrel in my hands before sleep is totally gone. Light? I need no light. I know where everything is, and I know who everyone is, and The Mom knows better than to get out of her room in times like this. We have a drill for this. I get up, she doesn’t. There will be no accidents.
I just look and listen. I let the dogs run their trip. They seem non-specific as to the location of the threat. Then I hear it. The smoke detector’s shrill death call. Bud barks louder at hearing it again. Stand down the Am-a-day. Good dog, come here. Here mutts, treats for dogs. Mom has slept through this.
Lightning is a strange creature. Mindless, with no direction, it does what it does. Smoke detectors are pretty much more predictable. They’ll die in the middle of the night, and when they do, my dogs are going to rise to the occasion. I’m actually good with all of this. I’ve lost some sleep, but I know what works. Amadeus, Adamantues! Adamant. Of Steel. The dog is fearless in a way that I will never know.