L is for Lightning.
When you live in the country, you know to seek cover when a storm approaches. But you also know that lightning--in some ways, is your friend.
I remember, when I was a little girl, grandma warning us about getting caught out in a storm. When you have acres to roam, and it's in a big valley, sometimes you don't see the storm coming for the BIG hill blocking your view. So we learned to be vigilant, and if we heard thunder, to beat feet for the house or the barn, whichever was closest.
And if we chose the barn, stay inside. Don't peek out at the rain and lightning, because "lightning balls roll right off the barn roof onto the ground." Yeah. I'm grinning as I write that, because that is what grandma said. Was it another cautionary tale? I don't know. There is such a thing as ball lightning. It's rare. I think if grandma saw it even once in her life, it would have been enough to have her warn us about it till the cows came home. And she did.
All that aside, have you ever wondered why it is, in spring when the world is all winter-brown and bleached tan, that after a good thunderstorm the world turns green overnight? It does. It's nothing short of stunning--the change that occurs. And the neatest part? There is science behind what the old timers have known (through simple observation) for centuries.
Nitrogen is one of the big three in a bag of fertilizer. The first number on the bag represents nitrogen content. It's one of the big three because it is SO very necessary for plants. And the role it plays in plant growth is that of leafy, vegetative, green growth--as opposed to root growth or flower/fruit formation.
So what does that have to do with lightning making the world turn green? Lightning changes things. It "fixes" nitrogen in the soil into a useable form.
Your soil could be full of nitrogen, but if it's in a form that a plant's roots can't "take up" (absorb), then it may as well be tiny plastic balls. What happens when lightning occurs is a plant lover's sort of alchemy. It turns the nitrogen into a usable form by separating the nitrogen molecules to the other molecules they were bound with. The plant roots gobble it up and it goes to work--that fast! A lawn can turn green overnight after a spring thunderstorm.
Lightning--photo caught with my cellphone.