As he always does when I’m dinking around in the bathroom getting ready for a shower, the dog parked himself on the end of the bed so he could watch. He either knows there’s a good chance that I’ll be leaving the house soon and he doesn't want me to slip out behind his back or Levi is a voyeur who likes to look at old ladies naked. He stays there until I’m fully dressed and I open the blinds. At the point he changes his position so he can look out the window to assume his role as an Early Warning System in case a rabbit tries to break into the house while I’m gone or a beach ball rolls by. I didn’t tell Levi that the snow was way too deep for either one of those two things to happen today. Rabbits are a common sight and surprisingly so are beach balls in the summer. There is something about the terrain that causes stray balls and plastic bags to come up the street and circle my house if it's windy. One time I counted a ball going around my house six-eight times before it got caught in the bushes.
The lecture at the senior hall that got canceled because of the snow storm was rescheduled for today and while it was very interesting it was also a sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat reminder that tornado season is not far away. It was given by a guy who has spent his vacations for the past twenty years storm chasing in Oklahoma. During his ten days in the state he and crew are able to chase between one and five tornadoes and he was in Moore, Oklahoma when the big once struck a few years ago. He showed videos taken from inside their vehicle that day and I’ve got to tell you, I think a person would have to be half crazy to storm chase a tornado. That particular tornado killed 24 people and injured over two hundred. It was on the ground for 39 minutes and it made a 14 mile path. That day, they not only chased the tornado, it chased them.
When asked why he likes to storm chase, words like “adrenaline rush” came up and he said it was like “hunting a tiger on a bike.” In fact, he said it’s a lot like hunting in general because they have to study the terrain and weather maps, figure out where a storm is likely to pop up then hang around that area waiting for a tornado to appear so they can chase it and shoot some film. Storm chasers have died pursuing what is a hobby for most of them and, can you believe it, storm chasers even have yearly conventions. The lecturer said his fascination with tornadoes began in his childhood with The Wizard of Oz and when it came time to go to college he left Michigan and studied in Oklahoma where he got hooked big-time on storm chasing.
The photo above is of my husband standing on the steps of the farm house where he grew up. A tornado hit the farm twice, ten years apart. That last time they couldn’t rebuild. Strange stories came out of that tornado like the fact that Don’s birthday cake still sat on the kitchen table on the other side of the rubble in the photograph---not a fleck of debris on it. The only wall that was still standing upright had a clothesline attached to it and a tree and when that clothesline was cut the wall fell in. One of their horses was found miles away and a heavy china cabinet with a wave-glass front toppled over and while the legs snapped off the wave-glass was still intact. We humans are resilient creatures, aren't we. We go through horrific events like losing homes, jobs, health or people who are important to us but somehow most of us manage to come out the other side of our tragedies to rebuild our lives again.
Some men act all macho when we get tornado warnings and they don’t want to go down to the basement. Some, like the lecturer, find it fun to try meet them head on. Don was never one to drag his feet about running for shelter. After his stroke there was no way I could get him and his wheelchair downstairs, so we’d huddle in the hallway with quilts over our heads but he’d want me to go downstairs which added extra stress to an already stressful situation. I figured we’d die in the hall but if I went downstairs and lived while he died upstairs, I couldn’t live with the guilt. You can actually see the warning alarm for the entire township from my house---it’s only 1,000 feet away---and when it goes off there is no missing it. They test it once a month and it drives Levi nuts for the full five minutes. I put my hands over his ears. He refused to go down the basement during tornado warnings and I can’t carry him so even though Don is gone, I still have the dilemma of should I go down or stay upstairs with the dog.
Speaking of Levi, did I tell you what happened to him yesterday? He’s a miniature schnauzer with a tough-boy build but he was no match for the 11.2 inches of wet, heavy snow we got. I had shoveled him I narrow path across the deck to the three steps down to his yard. But once down in his yard he got himself stuck in the snow and couldn’t move. I’ve had dogs my entire life but I never had to dig one out of a pickle like that. He was getting stressed trying to free himself from the white “concrete.” Although so much trouble and danger that can come with major snow storms, I’d still rather take my changes with them than a tornado. And as much trouble as dogs can be sometimes, I still wouldn't want to live without one in the house. ©