Friday, March 16, 2012

Tornados and Rainbows

All I remember is the steamed up window panes and me reaching one finger up over the windowsill and drawing it down over the wet surface.  My mother was there and for some reason, my Aunt on my father’s side. Excitement and tension were in the air inside the dining room that day. It was dark though mid-day.  Tornado warnings – not watches - were being spoken of on the radio.  I was probably 5 or 6 at the time?
A neighbor who helped out at the farm came in and spoke of shoring up swinging doors on the shed next to the barn…but that’s about all I clearly remember.
Only years later did I hear the story about how my father and brother who had been feeding the cattle on a pasture miles away, actually crawled under the truck for ‘safety’ when the tornado roared by.  My brother remembered the freight train noise.  He would have been 11 or 12.
Miraculously, no one in the neighborhood of nearby farms was hurt, but the damage was amazingly extensive. You could still see it 25 years later. I am sure someone’s barns and sheds on other farms must have flown off over the rainbow.  The major reminder for years to come on our farmland were the uprooted old growth trees in our woods and the very strange oddity of a chicken coop, right above the house in the apple orchard, having just appeared the next day, still standing in the very same spot, but completely upside down on its roof. Luckily, the chickens had been moved years earlier to a new coop down by the barn.
Yet, I never feared storms. Then again...I did not live in the 'flat' states where tornados were prevalent. 
 Storms usually broke horribly hot and humid summer days where I lived.  Lightning, thunder and wind brought wonderful cooling rain and air, excitement and of course, if we were lucky - a rainbow.
My brother and I from would actually look in the distance during tornado watches to see if we could see any funnel clouds in the distant horizon.  Running to the cellar never even entered our mind.
It brings to mind a great story Hemmingway wrote about his days as a reporter on the front lines of war.  He was in the war zone having a drink with buddies one day and all of a sudden, they started getting shelled. All his war buddies started for cover, under tables, in corners.  Hemmingway just sat there finishing his drink, commenting afterwards that a shell could very well land on top of a sheltering table as easily as where he sat finishing his drink.
Yes, we did have a cellar, but it also contained bees – nasty bees. 
Being enclosed in a small cellar with extremely nasty bees or facing a tornado under a truck?  What choices.                                                                                
                                                                                                      copyright 2012 Stepka

                                                       Somewhere over the Rainbow