Lightning is extremely powerful...the actual event-- and the words denoting it, too. Perhaps one of the reasons why is that even though science (for the most part) understands it, it is still unpredictable and refuses to be bound or harnessed in any way.
Powerful...lightning...and its twin, thunder.
When I was a small child, I recall my grandmother (who was born in 1885) telling stories about lightning balls rolling down off of the barn roof. I never saw them...but believed that it had happened. And we all knew that if a storm approached, we were to beat-feet for the house or inside one of the farm buildings. Get away from the creek and out of the woods. Never hide beneath the sheltering branches of a tree. Everyone was aware of the local farmer whose herd of cows took shelter under a tree in his pasture, and when the tree was struck, the cows were all killed.
Even knowing all of that, on a warm summer evening when distant rumbles sound--seeming to shake the earth, I look for a place to watch the storm's approach. The leaves quiver, the softwoods turning their silver backs away from the coming weather. I patiently wait, anticipating the first breeze and the smell of rain. Lightning is pure magic. Not many things are...but lightning is one, and thunder--the harbinger of its approach.
So, while thinking of lightning in terms of being magic, it brought to mind something the old timers always said (you know how I love the things the old timers said). When there was a first spring storm after the ground had thawed, and lightning flashed across a mud-brown and dead grass landscape, "That'll make the grass green."
Yep...unless it is was one of the earliest storms--in a mid-winter thaw, it did, indeed, make the grass green.
When I was young, I just sort of figured that there was something purely magical about. Not that I didn't wonder why. I would tear apart a baby's rattle to understand it--if I'd had the tools. But a child can't begin to tear apart the magic in lightning and green grass.
Enter adulthood, and bigger, better tools. :-)
The "N" on a fertilizer label denotes the nitrogen content. We have nitrogen in fertilizer because it fuels leafy, green plant growth. Doesn't do so much for roots, flowers, or fruiting...but if you are looking for healthy, vigorous, green growth, nitrogen is your dynasty. Plants need nitrogen.
When lightning strikes, it super-heats the air near to it. In doing so, it causes the nitrogen to bind with the oxygen in the air--forming nitrogen oxides. These combine with moisture in the air. The now "fixed" nitrogen is carried to earth by rain, and these nitrates can be taken up and used by the plants. Lightning fixes nitrogen into a form usable by plants.
Okay, we understand it now. Still, when you fall asleep listening to approaching thunder, and wake up to a dramatically greener world... seems like pure magic to me. :-)