This is simply a story of my childhood experience
with some severe weather.
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From the time I was a mere witchling, I have loved storms. Growing up a storm-lover was a mixed blessing. I was fortunate to be raised in Minnesota. True, the state is not a storm capital but its not not deprived either. Additionally, for most of my childhood, we lived away from city lights--sometimes even on lake shore property.
Sadly, I was the only one in my family that enjoyed the thunder, lightening and wind. My mother, in particular, had an overly cautious nature. At the first sign of severe weather, she'd tune into a local radio station and TV channel so she could learn of warning conditions
immediately. Thus, I spent most childhood storms in the basement. The up-side to my mother's fear was that she would wake me in the middle of the night to take me downstairs. I always went as slowly as possible so I could at least see something. I also learned from her how to be safe in storm conditions. She instilled in me a healthy respect for nature's tantrums.
The closest brush I've had with genuinely severe weather was during my eleventh or twelfth summer. By this time I had bullied my mother into allowing me to stay top-side as long as I remained in the house.
I remember standing in the living room watching the roiling sky and gyrating tree limbs through the picture window. A peculiar, flying shape caught my eye. Suddenly I realized that I was watching a railroad tie, from the landscaping company located 2 blocks east, hurtle toward the window, narrow end first. I had enough time to scream, and to think about running, before the wind turned the missile broad-way and it crashed into the side of our house. I have an image of the plate glass bowing inward, but I suspect it was an illusion brought on by fear. The house shuddered and, behind me, something glass fell to the floor and shattered. The explosive sound of the glass freed me and I ran for the basement.
We huddled in the basement and listened to the wind howl and tear at the house. My grandmother, eighty years old at the time, kept repeating the 23rd Psalm but the noise was so great that I couldn't make out most of the words. The lights never went out. The black and white "storm watcher" television showed the progression of the front as it swept over our county and repeatedly reassured us that we were not experiencing a tornado; "only" straight-line winds. Eventually, the shrieking subsided and Mother and I ventured upstairs.
The railroad tie lay on a bed of crushed daylilies. The window frame bore deep, splintered impressions where the tie had bit into the wood. The lawn was littered with branches, leaves, someone's laundry and shredded bits of the Sunday paper we had forgotten to bring in.
In the back yard, the umbrella from the patio furniture was gone. After a moment, we realized that the rabbit hutch had also disappeared. We found the umbrella, whole and undamaged, six blocks west of us. We never found so much as a chip of the hutch.
I grieved long and hard for the rabbit that the storm took. For a while, I hated this thing that killed innocent animals and frightened gentle, old grandmothers. Now, I can once again cherish the beauty and power of the storms. I understand that the trade is fair. Though I will forever carry armloads of animals into the basement first, I will continue to stand and watch the winds come. And, right or wrong, I would allow my daughter to stand behind me.
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