Monday, March 13, 2006

Hunkered

As an adult, I thought I had lost my ability to be "scared." I outgrew the bogeyman, monsters in my closet and can usually make my way through a scary movie with the realization that a camera and a crew is only feet away. Knowing that I've got a good support network, I'm also not that fearful of disease or a tragic accident or some debilitating injury. I know I could make it. For all intents and purposes, I walk through life feeling largely (and naively) impenetrable.

Until yesterday.

Like any typical March in Kansas, the skies went from gloomy to threatening in a matter of minutes. Then shortly after I heard the downstairs TV blast the annoying-but-noticeable alarms via the Emergency Broadcast System. This was certainly not a test.
I went outside to get a first-hand look at the sky and it possessed an eerie greenish glow. And then thunder. Loud, violent thunder. Within minutes, the dogs were at my heels seeking refuge and comfort. I sought the same by going inside and watching NBC Action News. The news wasn't good--"tornadic activity," softball-sized hail and winds of up to 120mph were fast approaching.


Living in Tornado Alley for most of my life, I was taught that tornados sound a lot like a train whistle, so I was on high-alert for the tell-tale signs of a trumpeting twister. Not 20 seconds after I began watching the weather, I heard a strange, high-pitched whine. It got louder. And closer. The dogs and I exchanged frightened stares. They knew something was amiss. Pepper, the Dalmation, was visibly shaking.

But then the sound's frequency fluctuated. I soon realized it was our tornado warning sirens, and at full blast, they sent a frightening chill down my spine. I gathered the dogs, grabbed a flashlight and headed to the basement. I won't lie, my heart was racing. Even in the bowels beneath my house, surrounded by a least a foot of stone walls, I was scared. I felt like a primitive villager as the ancient Maya guardians beat the warning drums as enemies approached, or a defenseless London family during Hitler's bombing campaign.

As I watched our advanced weather technology and live video feeds of cloud formations I thought about how lucky we were to have such systems. I wondered how earlier, more primitive Americans coped with getting caught in a surprise storm such as this one. And then I realized--they did exactly what I was doing: they huddled together and hoped.

As with most tornados, I (and thousands of others) fell outside the path of destruction. We only got some strong wind and a few drops of rain. But I was not unaffected. Those twisters tore the roof right off my house of invincibility. Mother nature: you win.

1 Comments:

At 7:17 PM, Blogger MiKell said...

I know these feelings.

Of course, it was my cats that I clutched close to my bosom, and we don't have a basement to hide in.

In Florida (almost) no one has a basement to hide in.

 

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