When a storm is in the distance, I enjoy writing outside. The breeze cools my skin and the thunder is soothing. The misty air is balmy and for a little while, I can imagine I’m at the beach, listening to the waves from a balcony, tasting the salt on my tongue. I pay attention to the animals around me and use them as my guide. As long as dogs and cats are comfortably moving around, squirrels are jumping from branch to branch, and lizards scurry in the grass, I trust I’m safe to stay. When the critters in the trees stop scurrying, the birds go silent, and the companions by my side head to the door, staring at me intently, it’s time to retreat. I know they can feel the weather in their bones and I trust their judgement better than my own. Animals don’t have the internet and weather reports and instant notifications on cell phones. We didn’t either, in decades past. I believe our ancestors trusted their own achy knees and their animals. Sometimes, an answer is obvious, in front of you, if you look at what your surroundings are telling you. I’ve had some simple rules for my kids regarding weather. Rainy weather is safe to play in, but stormy weather is not. If they see a flash of lightning anywhere or hear thunder, no matter how far away, they’re to get under the porch, under cover. If the lightning is bright enough that it hurts their eyes when it flashes or the thunder makes them cover their ears, they need to get inside. When in doubt, pay attention to the animals. If they can’t see them or hear them, they need to trust that something bigger than the animals is coming and the animals are sheltering, so they should as well. I’ve never wanted them to fear a storm. I’ve only wanted them to understand storms, to respect their power, to feel the awe and wonder, witnessing something natural that feels supernatural. I also know that phones run on batteries and electricity. In the event of truly dangerous weather, teaching them how to use their eyes and their ears, their gut instincts, is incredibly necessary, because the internet may not be there for them. When it rains, I sometimes play with them outside, twirling and dancing in the droplets. When I see our greyhound shaking in her bed, I know she is feeling thunder that we can’t yet sense and I warn my sons to be ready, that it’s almost time to come inside. When they do, they cover her in a heavy blanket to help ease her anxiety and they know that when she perks up again, it’s probably ok to play outside again, and they open the door and look to double check. Eventually, there will be a day when they trust technology more than themselves. For now, I appreciate that they trust their dog and their porch kitty and the birds that sing them awake.