Saturday, August 14, 2010

Crazy Kansas Weather

We have been parboiling under the intense August skies in heavy humidity for days. It has not been pleasant, not human being weather. The chickens have been standing around with their beaks open. It is not a good look for them, poor things. Duke spends all of his time laying against the foundation of the house, where presumably the extra air conditioning vent beneath the floor of the house cools off the crawl space. (Don't ask.) Any involved outdoor activities sap my strength for a couple of days. All creatures have been patiently awaiting relief.

Last night, out of the heat and humidity, Kansas cranked up a small but potent line of thunderstorms. The clouds mushroomed out of the west in such a short time they caught my daughter on the highway in 95 mile per hour winds. Intense lightning whipped across miles of sky, and the rain, when it finally arrived, fell in driven sheets.

I was at the Rambling Rose Cafe in Paxico, when the storm blew in a woman from New York City, and four folks from Alabama. The Alabama people were friendly and relaxed, hoping they were going to see a Kansas twister. We assured them there would be no twister and they were disappointed. The woman from New York City seemed to be drunk or stupid or both. Everyone understood her fear of the weather. If you are not used to the angry ferocity of a Kansas thunderstorm roaring in from the west, it can be quite unnerving. It was her loud mouthed assertion that she was going to be writing a book about her stay in Kansas and she was going to include the cafe and the town of Paxico in it. Hate to burst your bubble, Darlin', but you know you are still in America, don't you? Every four years we get to vote for the president of the United States, and a few of us turn on the Internet sometimes.

The electricity went out at the cafe, so New York's assertions that she was going to be writing a book about her stay in Kansas, Paxico in particular, the cafe specifically, became even louder and more insistent, just in case anyone in the tiny cafe had not already heard. I know the electricity sometimes goes out in New York City because it makes the news, even out here in Kansiberia.

After I escaped the most irritating person I have been forced to share a meal with in recent memory, I wondered how well I would behave in New York City. I would be a bumbling country rube, with hayseed in my hair, so it all evens out. I needed gasoline to make it home, so I left the cafe for the truck stop.

Ahhh, the truck stop. It is an oasis in the midst of my rural life. It is open twenty four hours a day, every single day the world continues to exist. During the ice storm, when I did not have electricity for ten days, I was able to go there for a hot, steaming shower. When it rains too heavily and I am afraid the creek might flood, trapping me, I drive to the truck stop until the rains pass. If my electricity goes out in a thunderstorm, I drive to the brightly lit truck stop and have a cup of coffee. There are always people coming and going at the truck stop, which is comforting sometimes.

The place was built on a hill and the wind is a constant factor. Each time I am shivering in the freezing arctic blasts while refueling my truck, or getting sand blasted by the wind and dirt in warm weather, I think the owners should invest in a wind turbine. They could significantly reduce their electricity costs.

Last night was no different. Though the rain had stopped in Paxico, there was a surprising amount of storm left a mere eight miles to the east. Just as I got out at the pump, a howling gale came blasting in. The wind was blowing so hard, driving the rain with such force, that it literally took my breath away. I jumped into the truck, soaking wet, even though there is a large outdoor roof sheltering the fueling area. Then the wind began to blow in earnest.

The rain was horizontal, lashing into long lines straight into the east. The truck began to rock ominously. I thought the Alabama people were going to get their wish after all. At one point the wind was so strong that it was unsafe to leave the truck and unsafe to stay in it. I was actually scared for my safety for a few minutes. But soon the gale blew itself out, and I left for home, sweet home, right here in good old Kansas.


Li'l Ned said...

"Ohhhhhhhhhhhh-klahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain,
And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet,
When the wind comes right behind the rain....."

How come nobody ever wrote a great song like this about Kansas?!

Jackie said...

Maybe that gal from New York will!

Anonymous said...

I've always been a little in awe of the majesty of a bone-rattling-night-time Kansas thunderstorm! I've driven in one, watched from a screened porch or two, and huddled in the dark wondering if it was time to start praying.

I think the winds should appropriately be called a "Dorothy Gale." (Okay, I know I need to seek professional help)

Jackie said...

Perhaps Frank Baum chose Dorothy's name for precisely that reason? I never even thought about it before... Very clever, Cyberkit.

ProfessorRoush said...

Yes, that was some quick storm on Friday night. In Manhattan lots of folks lost power and were still out as of last night when we lost power again. Lots of tree limbs down. That gal from New York should be ready for some changing weather...wonder if she'll still be here for the next ice storm?....which, knowing Kansas, could be as early as next week!

Jackie said...

I think I would greatly enjoy an ice storm next week....