Storm Riding

Last night’s storm earned its place in the books. I don’t know what the wind speed stats were, but they were high enough to ban trucks on I-80, some 20 miles south of me, for a good portion of the overnight hours. We had some rain, a few knocked-over trees, but nothing really serious like the snow in Kansas and the tornados in Iowa.

I laid in bed, listening to the roar of the wind and the creaking of the rafters in response. When we built, Hubby used hurricane clips to attach the rafters and decking to the house and each other even though builders he’d spoken with had said that they weren’t needed.  At the time they cost 50 cents a piece. They’ve proven to be one of the best investments against the winds that we get out here.

It’s just part of life in an open space. It is November, the month of unstable weather and days covered in rainy sheets. As with storms at any other time of the year, an eye is on the sky and an ear is on the radio for developments and warnings.

The day before this front came through was the 40th anniversary of the Edmund Fitzgerald’s fateful run down Lake Superior from Duluth to Detroit. The Fitz didn’t even make the Soo Locks where she would have entered Lake Huron and sank near Whitefish Point not too far to their west. There were no survivors.

This storm’s barometric pressure was supposed to have similar numbers, and one of the local weather forecasters who had worked the night of the Fitz’s sinking was practically breathing into a paper bag. Any storm or one like it that could produce waves of a size that could take out a 700+ foot long ship is to be respected.

When the numbers started to play into the news a few days ago, I fought the urge to go get a big bag of potato chips and Coke. The standard storm routine in my very young days involved waiting for the tornado sirens to sing their songs of warning, then one of us would take the chips, another the bottles of Coke, another the the flashlight, and Mom would take one last look to make sure that everything that needed to be turned off was before we proceeded to the basement. Once down there, the radio would go on so we could monitor the weather, and in between reports, dance or roller skate or sit and read the boxes of vintage magazines from the ’40’s and ’50’s. When the watch was lifted, we returned to our regular daily schedules, perhaps a little disappointed because our fun was interrupted.

Sometimes we didn’t quite get downstairs, but that was OK. I have no conscious memory of this, but according to my dad, Mom and I would take afternoon naps in the big blue rocking chair. Our neighbors across the street had a huge maple tree that danced in the wind. One afternoon while my siblings were at school, Mom and I watched the tree as we sank into our nap. And sank so deeply that we didn’t know that the sirens had gone off until Dad called to check up on us and ask how our basement stay had been.

These days, much to the cardiac-arrest inducing chagrin of some of my friends, I stand in the field to read the sky. I watch until the lightning gets uncomfortably close, and I go inside. Even when our local siren emits its eerie wail I watch out the windows.

Not last night, though. The wind picked up through the day, and tossed the relatively small amount of rain around, making it sound as if more fell than actually did.  When the rain subsided, I took Oakley out for his last run of the day. We went to bed, listening to the creaks of the roof and the snores of the canine intersperse the Renaissance music that filled the darkness.

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