We’re Not In Kansas Anymore

Having grown up in the midwest, thunder storms are not unfamiliar to me. The sky darkens, the wind picks up, the clouds start swirling. Soon, the rain begins. If it’s a real mean storm, hail begins falling, perhaps destroying any plants that are vulnerable to the elements. If it’s a really, really mean storm, HIT THE DECK. Or rather, the basement, because tornado sirens begin letting off their terrifying sound.

The other day when Kaiya, Mylee, and Cole were visiting us, I said, “I wish we’d get a tornado warning.” They, of course, looked at me like I had two heads, and for good reason. Tornadoes are bad, and I shouldn’t ever make light of them. But I explained to them that what I really like is the sort of coziness a storm brings. Thunder cracking. Lightning flashing. We all huddle together on the sofa, riding out the storm.

Denver doesn’t get many tornado warnings. Most of the really severe weather takes place on the eastern plains. The storm might pass over on its way to Akron or Sterling or Lamar, but it usually moves past us pretty quickly. Havaing said that, I will tell you that before Bill and I married, he claims to have watched a tornado pass over the city. He stood on his balcony and watched as it made its appearance on Broadway — one of Denver’s main streets near downtown. I don’t think it did much damage.

I certainly didn’t like storms when I was a little girl. There was no use waking up my mother, because she wouldn’t have had a lot of patience with my nervousness. But it really didn’t matter because my baby brother was terrified of thunderstorms. I could count on him to head straight to my room to huddle until the storm passed.

To Mom’s credit, she somehow always knew when there was a tornado warning near us, even in the middle of the night. She would shake us awake, and tell us to find our rosaries, because we were heading downstairs to the southeast corner of the basement. Or was it the northwest? I can’t remember.

I have never seen a tornado. We had them in Columbus, of course, and I’m sure they still have them during the hot, humid summer months. Bill and I recently rewatched the movie Twister starring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton as an estranged couple who fall back in love while Chasing tornadoes all over the countryside. Who knew you could smooch while a level 5 tornado is whirling around you and cows and semi trucks are flying by like toys. Given that the movie was made in 1996, they probably were toys. But watching a tornado in a movie isn’t quite the same. I wonder if I will see a live tornado in my lifetime.

I began thinking about this because yesterday afternoon about 3 o’clock, the sky got eerily dark, and the wind started blowing. I checked Weather Channel, which had a severe weather advisory. I quickly went out back and pulled all of my plants under the covered patio. My tomato plants are starting to produce, and I have harvested a goodly amount. I’m not about to have them destroyed at this point. Alas, aside from a brief rainfall, the storm amounted to nothing. I guess that’s a good thing.

But I leave you with this question: Why is it that just as soon as the first rumble of thunder, police or ambulance or firetruck sirens begin sounding? One of life’s great mysteries.

5 thoughts on “We’re Not In Kansas Anymore

  1. I have lots to say! We had a storm last night with thunder and a ton of rain and I thought the same thing. Why the sirens?
    Also, the mattress was in the southwest corner of the basement! Why didn’t we shelter in the more finished side of the basement? That mattress was in the yuckiest spot of the entire basement.

    • That’s where we sheltered because at the time it was believed that the southwest corner of a basement was the safest place to be. It had to do with the direction a tornado usually traveled.

  2. I love the coziness of a storm. But a severe thunderstorm is good enough for me. Our thunderstorms here in CO are so short. A couple good cracks and that’s it. Unlike Nebraska and Kansas where they circle and keep coming back half the night.

  3. Laid in a ditch one night covering a story for the Kansas City Star on a tornado that hit a little town east of Manhattan, Ks. No fun !

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