Monday, February 21, 2005


Gravel, it ain’t.

It was about 6:30 this evening when the sirens started wailing and the northern sky became an eerie, inky black. Lightning - intense lightning - crackled in the distance, revealing enormous, multilayered storm clouds.

Normally, our cats are curious about that mysterious bottom-most level of the house, the Place Where They Dare Not Go, but their curiosity evaporates when we want them to go there. Perversely, they hid upstairs even as we tried to coax them to the safety of the basement. No point in chasing them. Chances are, they would instinctively find the safest spot in the house by themselves.

But She Who Must Be Obeyed and I went down. It’s a ground-level basement, complete with windows, so as a storm cellar it leaves much to be desired - but it beats being exposed on the second floor. And the windows allowed us to watch as the sheets of rain came down, accompanied by the escalating tick-tick-clack of the hailstones as they rattled out of the clouds.

Pea-size, dime-size, nickel-size, finally quarter-size. That’s plenty big enough for me. I’ve heard stories of softball- and grapefruit-size hail in Texas, and I’ve seen the aftermath: smashed windshields, “pebble finish” cars, airplane wings with huge dings. No, thank you.

Things settled down after a while, and I ran to grab a couple of the larger stones for souvenirs. Quarter-size, easily. The picture above shows the size distribution. Apparently, bigger stones fell just a few miles away, where my office is. Good thing I left when I did, or Mr. Chevy would’ve had a major migraine.

Last month, ice. This month, hail. What’s next?

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