Thunder and lightning and hail — oh my!

Lightning flashes, thunder rolls, and the guy bagging my groceries jokes about it being the end of the world (what with the hail and flooding to go along with the storm).

It’s always a surprise when the clear blue sky that winked and assured you on your way to the store has, once you enter and start to shop, abandoned you to the darkness of deep storm. What a bait and switch.

My main concern, as thunder sounds like canned goods on a conveyor belt and hail rattles the windows sounding like all the rice in the world dumped out of one gigantic bag, is making sure my daughter, who at fourteen is old enough to be left at home from this shopping trip, isn’t frightened by herself in the midst of all this mercurial melodrama. Having done that (no she is not frightened — she is actually thrilled with the beauty of the storm as it flashes across the sky light and the windows), I turn my thoughts to the task of running through the rain with plastic bags of groceries in hand.

It’s nothing really — the trouble of doing so — when you think that I do have food in these storm proof plastic bags and I have a car to run to and then a home to drive to after that. I sit in the car for a while, thinking of all the rain storms I have seen in my life (and being from Florida, I’ve seen more than my fair share) and thinking: what a gift it is to be able to see one again. Life is beautiful.

Flashlights and hurricane lamps are spectacles, necessary glasses in storm-prone Florida, if you will,  that I have put aside. I left them behind in my move to Minnesota. Now, I long to pick them up once more and use them to read the storm in the way I was once accustomed to. There is something primal and satisfying in riding out a storm and getting by without electricity — with a cold meal and candlelight — seeing everyday things transformed through the lens of storm illumination.

Once I get home and hug my daughter, the day couldn’t get much better for me. We watch the sky with the lights out.

June issue of InTheFray Magazine

Image courtesy of Ellywa

In this month’s issue of InTheFray Magazine, Imagine contributor, B. Tyler Burton, takes you for a walk you wont likely forget in his short story, The Stream.

Also in this issue, Stella Chung takes a journey through China’s Hainan province in The two Sanyas. In An uncle breaks the silence, Michelle Chen tells of how her parents and her uncle live with the latter’s diagnosis of schizophrenia.We finish this month’s issue with Amy O’Loughlin’s review of Eduardo Galeano’s book Mirrors.

Whiskey tags and purple bloom

Prairie phlox and purple loosestrife, field thistle and bittersweet nightshade…

When I was a child bedeviled by freckles, I was told that they were kisses from the sun. I took that with all of the natural disgust that would come to anyone so patronized.

Now, all grown up and with most of my sun love-tokens faded, I am charmed by the description and can’t help but think of it when I see the fields here in Minnesota sporting flowers like freckles — multitudinous and undisguisable — kisses from the sun.

My early morning commute includes rolling fields of purple flowers climbing up and down the hills that run alongside me like faithful hounds and the rush hour cars look like herds of mechanical animals in migration.

On this morning’s drive, my daughter crows with triumph at having spotted (in her usual morning license plate game) a big point winner — a “whiskey plate”.

She tells me that whiskey plates, she heard from her dad, are issued by the state to identify DUI/DWI drivers to make surveillance of them easier and that police are empowered to pull them over at any time.

A process by which the state issues a specially coded license plate to DUI/DWI drivers to make surveillance of them easier for law enforcement officers? Does that sound like an urban legend to you? It did to me.

Looking it up online with the intent to show her that whiskey plates are nothing more than an urban legend proved to be educational — for me.


Image courtesy of

Whiskey plates are real and have been around for a while. They have inspired discussion boards and debate, both online and in the real, legislative world. What do you think? Are they an invasion of privacy? A violation of rights? An ineffective slap on the wrist to  repeat offenders who should not be driving at all? A cost-effective way to monitor repeat offenders while allowing them the privilege of driving?

Links of interest

Minnesota Wild Flowers: Purple
What do whiskey plates in Minnesota look like?
Minnesota Lawyers: Whiskey Plates in Minnesota
Interesting discussion about Minnesota plates
Whiskey Plates, Public Humiliation?
Smiley face plate retired

Weird plates and license plate art:

Florida Jesus plate: Source

Kentucky “Teletubbies-look” plate: Source

License plate handbag

Superman license plate art

License plate map

sweet summer day

By Annette Marie Hyder

latticework leaves tendril the sky
casting shadows
like the sly half-mast of lashes
curled against the soft cheek of the grass

the brook arches an eyebrow
and slips its arms around the whole scene
whispering to the woods and the field to come away
come away, on a sweet summer day

(It’s not officially summer until the 21st but it feels like summer has arrived here in Minnesota .)