Lightning Strikes

To a deaf person, the entire world is limited to that which falls in their field of vision. We often notice what is happening off in the distance; things wriggling about behind a tree in the dense forest draw our attention and pique our curiosity. And when shadows from above or behind move across our path our nerves are on edge.

The most coveted campgrounds are those with wide views of the sea, a bathhouse nearby and, for me, a place to buy cold beer. We prefer open places with a clear field of view, such as a sparse thicket of trees with good sunlight, so we can experience the full feeling of the great outdoors.

However, these open spaces can invite unfortunate happenings, such as when a stray dog raises a leg on your tent or when food is swept away by gusts of wind or ravenous crows.

Camping on Hiroshima’s Miyakejima Island, we noticed a herd of deer lurked in the forest near where my friend Miho and I had pitched our tent. Thinking they might invade during the night, we camped on an elevated wooden stand. As darkness came, so did the deer. They arrived on the wood platform with the clicks of their hooves sending shivers through our spines.

“What if they tear through the tent walls with their horns?” we imagined. Miho then rapped on the wooden floor with her fist and the deer scattered in surprise.

Another time, while sleeping in an open field, we were suddenly enveloped in what seemed like the flashes from a gallery of cameras at a press conference. This continued every five seconds with no sign of stopping.

As I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and opened the tent zipper, I discovered not a bunch of photographers, but a sky full of lightning; each flash seeming to threaten to melt the tent. I could feel the bolts of lightning even with eyes closed and a sleeping bag over my head.

We crouched in the center of the tent, and it wasn’t until morning before the mischievous lightning subsided, leaving behind a perfectly peaceful, and welcome, blue sky.

Even though Miho and I speak in sign language, there are often furious bouts of laughter coming from our tent. So, if you happen upon a bright tent with shaking walls but no sound coming from within, don’t be afraid. Rather, grab a pen, a pad of paper and a beer and come on in.