Thursday, March 1, 2012

Be Careful What You Wish For

The weather has been so strange and abnormal for such a long time that I have been pining for the spring thunderstorms.  Though often dangerous, they are beautiful, powerful, exciting, and one of the best things about living in Kansas.  Unfortunately, they are sometimes the worst thing about living in Kansas.  A powerful storm blew through the other night, spawning a tornado that destroyed over half of the small Wabaunsee town of Harveyville.  That unfortunate community is less than 20 miles southeast of Spirit Creek, as the crow flies.

Earlier that evening, I stopped for a major fix of reading material at Barnes and Noble, the only remaining bookstore in Topeka. It was windy and clear when I entered the store but brooding and humid when I left for home.  As I fumbled for my house key in the twilight, I noticed the first lightning.  I checked the weather and was surprised to learn there was a tornado watch for the area.  When faced with a tornado watch, my game plan is always to stay alert in case I need to take shelter.  This naturally evolves into me stretching out on the couch, watching tv with my eyes closed.

Something jolted me awake - probably the blaring of the television suddenly becoming silent when the satellite connection was interrupted by the storm.  The lightning was constant and wicked.  I stepped to the front door to gauge the conditions in case I had to make a break for the storm shelter.  The thunder was continuous, coming from all directions, and the wailing winds blasted rain against everything with a cold violence.  Above all, an enormous roaring scared the bejeezus out of me.  The blazing, frenetic lightning lit everything in crashing strobes.  I could clearly see the whipping of the trees.  My house was making unusual groaning noises.  Maybe I should already be in the safety of the storm shelter, I was thinking to my dumb self.  I listened intently to that awful roaring for a while.  Since it was not getting louder,  I decided it was not a tornado - at least not one headed directly for me, so I opted to not make a run for the creepy storm cellar.  My heart was beating pretty hard for about fifteen minutes.  Perhaps retirement was not going to be an issue for me after all...

The storm did not last long.  The intensity soon went out of it and I knew it was safe to go to bed.  The next morning dawned clear, fresh and golden. Everything that could hold water was filled to the brim.  Large pools of water had collected in all the low spots.  Duke came to the front door with muddy paws and mud on his snout where he had been digging after some poor creature.  I let Jake out and the two of them were off and running.  It was not until I checked my email that I learned there had been a tornado.  A friend in Texas heard it on the morning news, wondering if I was safe.

I am safe, yet again.  But many of my neighbors lost everything.  I am very thankful for my good fortune and feel a tiny pang of guilt wishing for a big spring storm, since it brought such misery to others.

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