I used to consider spring to be a stardust-sprinkled season, especially the month of May.
That violently changed on May 22, 2014 when Mother Nature wreaked havoc and destruction upon us with hail the size of golf balls.
Ever since, I dread hearing the word hail in weather forecasts, wondering if we will be smitten again by wrecking balls from the heavens.
It is a period of history forever frozen in time not just for me but for many in Berks County who had their cars, homes and businesses hammered by hail on that day that lives in infamy.
It was so alarmingly, screamingly surreal having the weather deal destruction more adroitly than a blackjack dealer in this part of the country.
Weren’t storms of this nature the province of the Southern and Midwestern states where violent weather routinely chews up real estate like greedy developers?
With the sky suddenly blacker than Hitler’s heart, the storm hit with searing, sudden fury.
It nailed me in my car.
Hell from above unleashed its wrath upon myself and my fellow motorists on the West Shore Bypass.
The hail and the rain were so relentless that everybody stopped their cars because the assault was blinding.
I felt like a hapless surfer caught in an immense, violent wave as trouble kept pouring over me — but this was a frozen wave fissuring and fracturing my windshield as I sat helpless behind the wheel.
I felt as if my guardian angel had just blown a wing because he was conspicuously MIA as I was being strafed.
So many thoughts were rattling around in my head as the hail teed off on my car, triggering these terrible tick-tocks in my cranium.
One of those thoughts was … did I suddenly wind up in Oklahoma?
Another was … never snicker again at any doomsday talk of Armageddon and Apocalypse huddling up.
After what seemed an eternity, the hail and the rain ceased. But we couldn’t drive away because the fog was thicker than a Russian novel.
When it finally lifted and we pulled away, our tires spun on the ice.
In fact, the storm dumped so much hail that PennDOT had to deploy its plows to clear the roads, a bizarre occurrence on the cusp of the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
My car was totaled and that was a bummer.
But my car quickly became an afterthought when I learned that the hail storm had shelled my home and neighborhood — chewing up roofs, siding, water gutters, downspouts, decks and windows with mindless abandon.
Debris littered the landscape.
Our neighborhood looked as if an army of giant robots wielding menacing machine guns had opened fire on our homes.
Folks had impassioned chats with their deity as they peered into the gargantuan void of despair.
Our neighborhood was redolent with the musk of soul-numbing loss. It looked like a war zone.
We all were wondering if there possibly could be enough glue and duct tape in the world to put everything back the way it once was.
Fortunately, we have insurance companies and folks who specialize in smoothing out the dents in ugly ducklings.
In time, after being immersed in insurance claims, roofers and contractors, our neighborhood returned better than ever.
When disaster strikes, you just have to focus and clear the rubble one sheared shard at a time.
It is true that we draw fire and strength from adversity.
But once is enough.
Ever since, I consider hail to be the foulest four-letter word of all.
And when May arrives each year, I don’t think of May flowers.
I think of Mayday the distress signal.