Spring in the midwest is not for the faint of heart. You just never know what will happen next.
This morning, when I left for work, the fog was unbelieveable. It was so thick and heavy that visibility was down to less than 20 yards...... I am not exaggerating. I inched my way out of the driveway and on to the gravel road and when I got to the stop sign, I realized just how serious it really was. I simply could not see well enough to decide if it was safe to pull out on to the paved highway. I sat there for a few minutes trying to decide what to do--- sit there, go back home or give it a try----- when a car came hurling through the fog. It was a total surprise to see it! It was almost right in front of me before I had any clue that it was coming. I rolled down the windows and listened for oncoming traffic. I sat there for a few minutes learning to judge how close the traffic was by the sound wafting through the pea soup fog. Finally, I managed to get going on the highway and inched my way at 30 mph into town. I was going to stop and get gas for the truck and almost missed the fully lit gas station in town under street lights. It was crazy and by the time I had driven the 20 miles to work, my nerves were shot.
Then it warmed up and was beautifully sunny and HOT. By late afternoon, the air had the thick,still feeling to it that is a sure sign that we are in for thunderstorms.
Thunderstorms in the midwest are fearsome things. My father was from Oklahoma. As a kid growing up in Georgia, I can remember him walking the floors and looking out the windows during thunderstorms. He was genuinely worried and we all thought that he was over reacting. After I spent my first spring in Kansas, I knew exactly what he was thinking.
A storm here is usually fast moving, violent and prone to producing hail and --- of course---- tornadoes. We are seven miles from town but we can hear the tornado sirens ...... in the house. This is serious business. I do not know of a single person that does not have a weather radio....... most farmers have them in their trucks.
Tonight the weather radio blared three different times warning us of severe weather. It is after midnight and the worst of it has passed. The air has cooled off, the lightening and thunder is off in the distance toward the east. Best of all, the huge tree in the front yard with the hollow center is still standing.
I love to read the historical stories of the pioneers and homesteaders of this country. I have read several books in the series called, " Covered Wagon Women". These are the diaries and journals of women who crossed the prairie on their way to Oregon. I marvel at how much courage our ancestors had..... I also cringe at their accounts of the ferocius thunderstorms. I cannot imagine enduring one of them with nothing but a canvas covering---- much less traveling throught them for the entire spring.
At the slight rumbling of thunder, I begin to get ready. I hustle everybody to finish up what ever they are doing outside. At the first flicker of lightening, I am marshalling everybody to shelter. People look at me funny and think that I am over reacting. My kids just obey with out much grumbling. They know that I have good reason for concern and it is just the way that I am. They have had to live with me for the past ten years......
Once upon a time, about ten years ago, I went shopping for a new buck. The trip to look at this goat took almost all day to get out to western Kansas. About 30 minutes after arriving, a storm blew up. We were in the barn when a huge bolt of lightening struck nearby. It rattled the roof tin and felt as if it shook the ground....... actually, it did. The sky opened up and great chunks of hail rained down..........
This family's daughter had been struck by the lightening. It seemed like I spent an eternity doing CPR on her. It was a horrible, helpless feeling. I did my best but in the end, she did not survive. Just when I think that I have recovered and moved on, a thunderstorm will stir up memories......... I will never quite be the same again. For a time, if a thunderstorm woke me up at night, I would bolt straight up out of sleep........ usually yelling.
I am happy to say that I have healed enough that I don't do that anymore. I am not terrified of storms. I don't jump or cringe at the flash and noise. I am just uneasy when I know they are coming. It is just part of the way that I am.