Monday, April 03, 2006
There are few things more powerful or awesome than a strong thunderstorm. Whipping winds, driving rain and incessant lightning followed by a deep thunderous growl leave many feeling small and impotent. Some people are frightened by such storms. I love them.
I attribute my adoration to my childhood home. We had a westward facing front porch that welcomed the weather. Spanning toward the western horizon were a large yard and fields, with very little to obstruct the view of approaching storms. I would love to sneak out onto the porch to watch the lightning streak through the sky and count off the seconds until the thunder finally followed. I relished the variations of rain that would fall: the large scattered drops, the piercing cold downpour and then finally the reassuring sprinkles. I enjoyed everything a large thunderstorm brought, except the possibility of tornadoes.
The very thought of a twister sends my blood pressure skyward. I don't know if I watched The Wizard of Oz one too many times or took the 10:10 am drills on March 10 just a bit too seriously during elementary school. I have always had a horrific fascination with the swirling death column. As a child, I remember gathering all of my important toys and sitting on the steps to the basement whenever the news announced a tornado watch. We had very few warnings in our county and never had a tornado touchdown near our farm. I guess much of my fear may be due to lack of experience and knowledge. Whatever caused the aversion did a great job because I am still frightened by the possibility of a tornado.
We had some very powerful storms surge through our area last night. Our TV service was down, so I opted to watch Mother Nature's programming. I was observing the lightning from a second story window when I heard what I had dreaded all of my life: the tornado siren. It was the first time I had heard our siren outside the standard test each Wednesday at noon. I froze. My heart began to pound and migrate north to my tonsils. I was home alone with Aveline and Elvis. I needed to get my family to safety. Adrenaline took over and I quickly gathered a few things I would need: a pillow, flashlight, my cell phone and a radio. I scooped Aveline up from her crib and rushed down the staircase. In the kitchen I grabbed a bottle from the fridge and coaxed Elvis to follow me to the basement. I made a little bed beneath the stairs and placed Aveline on the pillow with her bottle. At this point she was just waking up and grew very excited to see me. I turned on the radio and listened. Outside the sirens continued to blare. The radio offered no news about the weather. I called my sister in Wisconsin to check the internet for me. She assured me that no tornado warnings were called in my area. I chatted with her for awhile. The sirens still blared for another twenty minutes. When they finished, I decided it was safe to emerge and go to bed. Aveline went to sleep easily in her crib, but I stayed awake for a few more hours. I had experienced too much excitement to sleep.