“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

8.20.2008

Baptism by wind



When I was a little girl, I had a little toy kitchen.
Pink.
A tornado took it away.
My youngest brother has no memory of this storm, he being just a toddler at the time.
I can still see the flattened garage in my memories.
I wonder now how bad it really was - was it bigger in my child's eyes than in reality?
I could ask my mother, and trust her memory, but I prefer mine.
It took my kitchen - that's all that matters.

Another childhood memory -
watching the night sky with my aunts & mother,
staring out through a latched screen door at the wind
& searching for funnel clouds.
I remember the bright light in the room,
the white paint on the wooden door,
the absolute green darkness of the outside.

A more recent memory -
sitting in the wonderful, wonderful dining area/studio space of an old apartment, drawing. Gorgeous light outside that grew darker & darker.
I was so involved in that drawing,
time was flying past with the wind that was blowing oh-so-fiercely outside,
I was oblivious to all but that sheet of paper in front of me,
until my temporary roommate, watching t.v.,
called out to me that we were under a tornado warning,
that one had, in fact, touched down in a small town 7 or 8 miles away.
Only then did I look up & see the green of the sky.
Only then.
She was from The North & had no real experience of such things.
I took a look at the wind -
at last! you might be saying -
& the sky & felt we were okay.
We were. Some were not.

Another memory, a bit earlier.
Drawing again - this time for a school assignment.
Different apartment with less wonderful light, but a gorgeous blue roof.
It was Sunday - early morning - and the t.v. was on so I could monitor the storm raging outside. Suddenly a warning - one to take seriously;
a tornado was down the road 4 or 5 miles & headed my way.
I outran its possibility.
No safe place in that apartment, on a flimsy 2nd floor.
I took the photo of my then-boyfriend, my purse & headed for my parents' house.
I knew that relationship was over when I told that boyfriend the tale,
thinking how sweet it was of me, how much in love it showed I truly was,
and he became uncomfortable.
Nervous.
Gone.
With the wind, so to speak.

A later memory, while working at a camera store.
The color of that sky became a drawing.
Tornadoes were touching down here & there
& I was in the back room with my boss & a friend who'd stopped by.
She too was from The North & had no real experience of such things.
She required a couple of Valiums.
I was just happy we were next door to a drugstore with a coke machine & candy bars.

Even later - this job, this business.
Standing with a customer & employees,
watching tennis ball sized hail bounce off our cars,
oohing & aahing at the heights achieved by some.
Another customer called to let us know that a tornado had touched down a couple blocks away from us, behind us, not in our field of view.
We never knew.

And a couple of years ago,
watching t.v. coverage of a tornado warning in my brother's little town a few miles away,
I called him, only to find he'd just been hit.
Nothing serious, some damage,
but live wires were down in the street & he was quite stunned -
he'd walked outside to,
yes, check the sky,
and there it was,
giving him time to shut the door behind him as he ran for shelter.

I am no longer as brave about these things as I was when a child.
The loss of my little pink kitchen was my first awakening.
But I can & do watch & listen to the sky. It speaks to those who will listen.
vvvvvvvv

12 comments:

  1. I am not an adrenaline junkie AT ALL, but I have always wanted to see a tornado in real life. At a fairly safe distance of course, but at a distance where I can see it in detail. I am a lover of storms, and this, to me, would be the ultimate.
    And to see a green sky? How wonderfully ominous!

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  2. Every summer we get tornado warnings up here...so far we've been lucky...although one did touch down not to far from where we live...

    I know just what you mean about the colour of the sky...

    Nature...she's so wondrous, and sometimes downright scary.

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  3. We've been known to have mini tornados in the U.K. Of course, because they are a rarity, we practically fall over from the excitement of having them...

    The power of nature is incredible and it always makes me feel so small and humble in comparison to its strength.

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  4. Amen to that! I am a want-to-be storm chaser. The sirens go off, my family heads to the basement, I head outdoors much to their horror and dismay.

    If we listen to everything in nature, it speaks to us...if we listen...

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  5. Tornadoes are so impersonal. They don't care who they hurt or where they go. It's VERY humbling. I've never been in one, just close, and it's pretty amazing. The sky color is just a little scary cause you know what could be forming. It's usually accompanied by absolute stillness before the wind.

    Christy, you're in a more tornado-y place than I am - you're in Dorothy country! :)

    Debi

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  6. Oh, your little pink kitchen! My inner little girl is very sad for your inner little girl because I had a pink kitchen too which just baked itself in the California sunshine years after I stopped playing with it.

    You reminisce about tornados the way we do about earthquakes. I have only been in the Midwest once in my whole life, and the day before I went home, the sky literally turned GREEN (I had NO idea such a thing could happen) and my friend very nonchalantly said, "Oh, yeah. This is tornado season."

    To say that I kind of freaked out (inside my mind) is a bit of an understatement. I think you are very brave and I enjoyed the way you presented your memories here.

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  7. we have weather disasters on a minor scale (floods, landslides, hail...) and the area is seismically active but i can't imagine having a real tornado... must be a humbling experience

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  8. Polona - I imagine I would not be cool at all in an earthquake or landslide. I'm not VERY cool under a tornado warning - I just take it seriously & pay attention.

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  9. like celeste, we also get tornado warnings which makes sense as we live so close to each other but i have seen one ~ the day i went skydiving for the first time, a thrilling beautiful day, we encountered a storm driving along the highway back into the city, so fierce, i had to pull over, the sky a strange colour, my heart beating as i saw a small twister out in the fields ... it was enough to send me back onto the highway, white knuckles until i was home ... there have been destructive tornados on the outer edges of my city and we often watch the everchanging sky ... its powerful beauty and fierce signs ...

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  10. D - OMG! I'm so glad it didn't stir up while you were actually skydiving. Although what a sight that would be! Wow!

    :O !!!!
    Debi

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  11. am i allowed a chuckle or two. you are so silly...in a good way of course!! :0

    oh yes, yes now i see it must be alright for me to chuckle a bit .. i just read your response to Darlene's harrowing sky diving near miss incident.
    you say: "what a sight that would be!" and i say: "what a ride that would be! eeekk!!"

    insert dry sarcastic tone here> "i ask you now was that supposed to be a funny story? no of course not." tee he hee...

    i don't like tornadoes at all but i like how tornado skies roil and roll. i also like tornado clouds, the color of tornadoes and the music of their wind. it howls doesn't it? it absolutely shrieks. but it whispers too and it goes deadly silent...

    i grew up in the prairie country of the midwest. i don't have stories i remember.

    i love that title you made it is very funny! it is also very blue you:)

    your pink kitchen. another winning anecdotal story my friend. i know, i know you really did lose a pink kitchen. i;m sorry for you but it would have been a lot less interesting of a story had you lost a framed photo of that ungrateful boyfriend.

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  12. Robin - Yes, said boyfriend was better off gone. Years later he ran into Robert somewhere & asked Robert if I was still as neurotic as ever. Robert, bless his heart, pretended to have NO IDEA what he was talking about! :)

    I have a wonderful tornado drawing I must post one day. It's my very favorite drawing & I will never sell it. I too love the way tornadoes look, their power, etc. - I just don't want anyone to be hurt by one.

    :) Debi

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