Saturday, April 08, 2006


Early, early this morning, the sirens awakened She Who Must Be Obeyed and me just before four o’clock.

We turned on the TV and were greeted by a frantic weatherman standing in front of a Radar-Map that showed horrific swaths of orange and deep red headed our way. Outside, the night was eerily calm, that quiet before the storm, but a look toward the northern sky told the true story.

The sky was boiling with looming clouds that were lit from within by an almost continuous flickering of lightning. I stood transfixed at the window, watching the spectacle, a spectacle that was strangely silent.

Then the sirens sounded once again, and SWMBO and I took refuge in the basement, flashlight at the ready in case the power died. When the storm struck, it was as though a switch were turned on. Violent gusts slapped at the house, blasting rain at the windows. The trees swayed and bent. It was a scene right out of King Lear...

I expected to hear the tell-tale clatter of hailstones any moment, but no hail came. And this was good, because the last thing I need is to have to deal with repairing a hail-damaged roof.

After a few minutes, things calmed down and we returned to bed.

Today we found out that we had dodged a bullet. Two tornadoes had touched down, slicing their way across the county and lifting off just a few miles west of us. In our neighborhood, tree limbs were smashed to flinders in several places. And less than a mile from our house, along a busy thoroughfare, there was a single, isolated piece of storm damage: a metal sign that had been twisted and mangled as if by a giant’s hand, leaving the surrounding buildings completely untouched.

It’s that capricious, completely unpredictable nature of tornadoes that makes them so frightening - and fascinating at the same time. I’ve dreamed of them many times, invariably in the form of frightening dreams of black, worm-filled skies, dreams that leave me with a peculiar fearful exhilaration. It’s the exhilaration that comes of facing the whirlwind - coming face-to-face with God’s awesome power - and surviving.

As we survived last night.

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