Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Counting Mississippi Grounding

A lineman's truck parked on a narrow road below wires in need of repair

Hello fellow readers, Counting One Mississippi, Two Mississippi was the advice of the JCP&L operator who suggested not taking a shower during a thunderstorm – precisely where I was when a storm clambered through and kicked out the power, cable, internet, and telephone. “It came out of the blue,” I explained in my defense.

The number of Mississippi’s is the number of miles.

The kind operator said he always told his daughter if you count the time from lighting to thunder, the number of Mississippi’s indicates the number of miles away the storm is. Indeed, light travels faster than sound. Although humidity and temperature impact travel time, it takes about five seconds for sound to go one mile. The main thing to notice is if the number of Mississippi’s increases between lightning and thunder, the storm is moving away, and it’s safe to shower. Busted.

The Mississippi counting technique is legendary, but such things always bring a chuckle. Why not hippopotamus or rhinoceros? They have about the same number of syllables, after all. Still, the gentleman’s southern drawl made the wisdom more fitting for Mississippi than a hippopotamus.

JCP&L quickly responded and labored for hours to re-wire the lines ripped off the pole by a downed tree forty feet from the front door. Of course, I laughed when the lineman used a garden rake to guide the new line into place.

Grounding or Earthing 

A bit of unrelated advice as shared by Cheryl of Clinton, who gardens in her bare feet; it’s called grounding or ‘earthing,’ and there is a hubbub of scientific research that touts the benefits. Bare feet directly on Mother Earth encourage electrons into the body, present in a practically limitless and continuously renewed supply on the Earth’s surface. They say earthing generates a powerful and positive shift in the body’s electrical state and the electrodynamics of blood, which restores natural self-healing and self-regulating mechanisms. Phew. The bottom line, it feels good to walk shoeless, as evidenced by how great you feel after a day barefoot on the beach. I would suggest, however, not walking barefoot with a garden rake during a thunderstorm. Thanks, Mr. Mississippi. Garden Dilemmas? (and now on your favorite Podcast App.)

Column updated 3/30/22


Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

Leave a Reply


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.