Monday, April 25, 2011

Stormy Weather

This has been a rough year for storms in our area. It seems that every few days we’re blasted again by ever more powerful wind, lightning, and occasionally even hail. These are not the April Showers that merely promise May Flowers. These are damaging storms, and no one is more aware of it than son Walker. He watches the weather news like a hawk, partly so he’ll dress appropriately for work should there be a change in the weather, partly because he is afraid.

Walker remembers acutely every power outage we’ve suffered through. He even stood up to his boss about going out in thunderstorms with lightning to retrieve carts, something I had warned him about after the death of a schoolteacher running to her car across a parking lot. He always has a flashlight within reach of his bed, and if the lights go out, he’s the first one downstairs with a way to see to get candles lit.

I’m not crazy about storms either. The worst I can remember happened one weekend at our lake house. The cabin sits on pilings right out in the lake; only the front room is on solid ground. The lake can flow with a dangerous speed and the pilings creak and moan even on relatively calm days. The storm in question came up just at dusk, and by dark, which was early because of the dark clouds, we had lost power. The wind was ferocious, and I was jittery.

My fears were increased by the fact that we had no news communication with  the power out. No battery powered radio. Nothing. The only thing we could see was an ominous dark veil of rain coming across the lake when the lightning flashed bright enough. I studied those flashes looking for a funnel cloud for a while.

“Where’s the safe spot in this house,” I asked my husband, confident that he would make me feel safe.

“Well, there really isn’t one. If the house goes, I plan to hold on to the pilings,” he replied in his usual untroubled and at that moment annoyingly detached manner.

I took one look at the large pilings that come up through the floor in the den and support the second story of the house. They are bigger around than I am, and my arms probably wouldn’t even wrap securely around them. I knew that was not the solution for me. I simply wasn’t strong enough to hold on against the storm. It was too late to get in the car and leave. I was stuck there.

Somehow that knowledge calmed my fears rather than increasing them, so I sat down in the stairwell, my version of a safe place, and just waited. In an hour or so, it was all over, and we went to bed, and somehow my sleep was quiet and untroubled. The power came back in the wee hours of the morning which dawned bright and clear, and I drove down the road to survey the damage. About a quarter mile from our house, there was a large aluminum grain storage bin, tossed and crumpled like an aluminum can and thrown across the road. We didn’t miss getting hit by much, but we were safe.

Not all storms are weather related.  Sometimes all of us have a family or health or employment crisis, and sometimes there's nothing much we can do about it except ride it out.  It can be productive to just wait, but only after we've explored our options. Initially it's really annoying, but once we settle into it, there can be a kind of peace to the waiting too.  I hope I become better at it.


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