The Hailstorm

Each year in late spring, a particular town’s leaders held a celebration of the anniversary of the town’s founding. Nearly everyone attended the festivities, which were held at the park near city hall. People even came from the other side of the nearby county line to take part. Town leaders watched the weather forecast with interest and had never yet had to cancel the proceedings on account of rain.

This year, the forecast looked as clear as ever. But as activities resumed after lunch, a breeze picked up. Thunderheads massed quickly and overshadowed the park. Participants cast worried glances skyward and thought about gathering up their belongings while hoping that the bank of clouds would pass on quickly.

Thunder pounded the air; as if on cue, hail began to fall. People raced to take cover in the pavilions that dotted the park.

Many families had dispersed during the activities—some children playing soccer or other games, some enjoying the swings and slides, some just running around, with adults watching or conversing. As the hail dropped fast and thick and everyone made their way to shelter, the parents called and waved to their children.

In a scene that unfolded and repeated itself across the park, parents knelt with arms open as their kids ran to them. As the children reached them, their parents brought them close, wrapping them in their arms. Families could be seen huddled in knots and reaching their hands out to those who straggled in from the storm. Thus gathered, they waited until the storm passed and the sun shone again.

Photo by Andrew Beatson on

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