Sharing the Storm

Here’s something I found rather unexpected. It all begins a little more than a year ago in Los Angeles. I was chatting with a friend, Aimee Bender, about our respective modes of work, and about how Summer fits into that in general. As you may know, Aimee’s a fiction writer, (and you may have picked up somewhere that I’m a theoretical physicist), and there are a lot of parallels to be found between professions that both involve lots of sitting around, crafting with symbols, folding fragments of inspiration together into larger nuggets, and so forth. So we chat about that from time to time.

A lot of how that works can be tied to the environment in which you do it, and so we got to talking about the long dry Summer in Los Angeles, with a particularly hot spell we were going through at the time we were talking. It affects how you work, what part of the day is most productive for you, and so forth. We agreed that a rather nice thunderstorm would be a good thing to have come along, even though that was highly improbable. Just the sound of a thunderstorm is a wonderful thing, and then there’s the relief it brings from the conditions before, and the smells in the air during and after. We carried on with the hot LA work cycle, stormless.

I left a week or two later for Aspen.

Shortly thereafter, Aspen went into a typical daily cycle of sunny for most of the day with a rainy downpour in the afternoon. Very refreshing. One of those days, that downpour turned into a long super-violent thunderstorm that lasted well into the evening. I got caught in it on the way home from working at the Center, and there was thunder and lightning and torrential rain right on top of the city.

I had an idea. I’d record the sound of this storm and send it along as a pleasant surprise to my friend in LA! So since the only recording device that I had (that I wanted to take outside) was my camera, I shot some video of the storm. I made a seven minute clip from it. This is not readily emailable, and so I realized that the best delivery method would be to simply upload it to YouTube and point her to it. Nobody would know to look at it if they did not know it was there, and so why not? Well, this is what I did. It was not a great video, but she got to share a bit of the storm. That was exactly a year ago today.

Well, months went by, and life went on. One day I happened to look back at my YouTube site again. I forget why. Maybe to upload another video for some other reason, or just because I wanted to remember the storm. To my surprise, the video had also continued on with a life of its own! Somehow, it got classified by the system along with a bunch of other “sounds of nature” type videos, and people began to find it, and it formed a fan base. It has now had 117543 views (at time of writing), 133 comments (including all sorts of discussion and arguments) and even a video response. People love it. People have put it onto their blogs, stripped off the sound itself and used it as their audio wallpaper on their Myspace pages, and goodness knows what else. I’d never have guessed that I would be sharing that Aspen storm with quite so many people. I don’t mind one bit. This is quite an interesting and wonderful phenomenon, the types of community that can spontaneously grow up around something on the web.

So, given that 117543 or so people have shared this storm from precisely a year ago, how can I deny my twelve blog readers? So here it is. I hope that it brings you some joy, as it did for several others.


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7 Responses to Sharing the Storm

  1. Bob says:

    I lost an audio tape that was just like that. I used to play it at night when turning out the lights to retire. Still sounds beautiful and thank you for posting it.

  2. My partner (now husband!) and I moved into our Pasadena house ten years ago, and the two of us agree that what we miss most about the East is the summer-afternoon thunderstorms.

  3. Jude says:

    You have 50 subscribers in Bloglines alone (at least the feed I subscribe to), so probably significantly more than twelve blog readers. I came across the video a few months ago when you posted something else on YouTube, so I checked out your channel. At that time, I thought the comments were interesting. I vividly remember a thunderstorm when I lived in a trailer at Mesa Verde National Park 26 years ago because I feared that my anxiety over being surrounded by lightning strikes on the mesa top would somehow be transferred to my daughter, who was then a baby. If I was shaking every time I heard a clap of thunder during that storm, would she grow up to fear thunderstorms? Fortunately, my love of nature was transferred (not my occasional fears).

  4. Add 256 subscribers on Google Reader.

    I also appreciated the video of the storm. I’ve never seen a mountain thunderstorm, and it’s a lot different from the Midwest storms I’m used to. I like our storms, but usually in an exciting way. That Aspen storm seems like the more soothing variety. Interesting.

  5. Amy says:

    Three years later, 381,589 views, 245 comments.
    And still just as refreshing to listen to on a hot day.

  6. Clifford says:

    Hurrah! Maybe I’ll do an HD version the next good one we have while I’m here.