Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Storm Warning

The wind wuthered about the house during the night, scraping the branches of shrubbery against a corner, waking me several times.
By 5:30 the cats were encouraging me to get up and serve their breakfast.
I lay still for a bit, watching the fuzz of grey light beyond the window.
After 20 minutes of being purred at and tread upon, I resigned myself to the inevitable and tip-toed down the hallway, my pride of felines leading the way.
With the morning treat dished out I opened the sliding door and looked out on swirling clouds.
The thermometer in the carport stood at 70 degrees F.

I showered and dressed quickly and went outside, camera in my pocket.
Wind surged through tree branches.
If you look closely you can see the branches of nandina shrubs and the magnolia tree blown sideways.

Dark skies to the northeast beyond the magnolia tree.

I had on my house shoes, soft, lightweight clogs, not really suitable for a walk across the cornfield, but I was drawn by the strange grey light and the warm wind, so picked my way carefully along the fence line.

A study in shades of grey.
Wouldn't this make an intriguing cover illustration for a brooding gothic mystery?

Pebbles seemed untroubled by the wind, intent on her grazing.

A glimpse of sun so fleeting that it had disappeared behind clouds before I could focus the camera.

Looking across the back pasture toward the old tobacco barn where J. stores hay.

By now thunder was muttering in the distance.
Rain was on the way with the possibility of a power outage.

Crossing the dooryard on my way back to the house I contemplated my weeding efforts of yesterday.
If you enlarge the photo you can see the purple flowers of the formidable creeping weed
locally known as henbit.

J. had left on errands and I contemplated a day of answering letters [emails] and then a retreat downstairs
to the latest quilt project.
I had brought in wood and started a fire to banish the chill that lingers in the basement room.
S-I-L M. phoned to ask if I was aware that a tornado watch was posted.
"Tornado Alley" so-called runs west of Adair County, though of course such storms are unpredictable
and high winds can come roaring through.
When J. is home he follows storm paths on a doplar website.
Certainly there seemed nothing unsual here--just some wind and rain.
As rain began to spatter down I stood in the carport watching the cattle in the field beyond our south boundary fence.
Initially all the cattle were grouped around a large 'roll' of hay.
As the rain increased, several cows headed toward the shelter of the trees, their calves following.

Only moments elapsed between this photo and the one above.
You can see the darkness of the storm closing in as the cattle plod toward the woods.

This group was not about to leave their lunch.
J. arrived suddenly, fired up his laptop and began a commentary on the storm's path.
M. phoned again to give the latest report from the local station issuing the warnings.
Stepping outside J. picked up on the rushing sound of the wind as it howled along several ridges to the west.
"Round up the cats and go downstairs with them," he ordered.
The cats were disinclined to be rounded up!
I nabbed several who had found warm cushioned places to snooze--tired from their morning frenzy of announcing the weather.
A cat at a time I dumped several on the staircase, closing the door.
Alerted to something unusual the others began to skitter along the hallway.
Grabbing another and opening the door I pushed furry beings out of the way.
With all but two herded downstairs I gave up on the untouchable Wilbur and on Mima who had hidden under the bed.
J. stood watching and listening at the sliding door.
'Right," I said, crossly.  'I'm to huddle in the basement room with my cats and if anything happens I come up and try to locate you in the wreckage?'
I stomped downstairs creating a path through the assembled twitchy cats.
I stirred the fire in the wood stove, looked about me, listened to J. wandering about upstairs.
Putting my head round the door I asked if he was coming down.
'The storm's passed by,' he stated.

Rain dripped from the eaves and sparkled on the red leaf buds of the maple nearest the door.
A feeble sun peeked through, as grey clouds scudded northward leaving swaths of blue.

The cattle, unharmed and placid, returned to their roll of hay.

Willis picked his way daintily down the path from the barn, stepping carefully around puddles, coming to find J. in the garage.
An hour's drive north of us and an hour to the west there was damage.
There was severe damage and loss of life in Ohio, in Missouri and Illinois.
Tornado season has come early this year with the warm weather.
Nestled here in the folds of hollows and ridges we hope we are safe.
Still, when there is a storm on the move, we watch, we wait--and we pray.


  1. Oh gosh - I'm so glad it passed you by, but not good news for others in its path . . . Cats can be so - ornery - at times. Especially when you are acting in their benefit . . .

    I am trying to imagine what it would be like here if we had tornados like that. As we have stone walls three feet thick I doubt the house would be flattened, but I suspect the roof might suffer a bit!

  2. I thought about you yesterday and today. It never fails, but if we get what I call squirrely winds, tornadoes pop up in the north and east of us the next day. I even said to Barry there'd be tornadoes in the heartland and northeast of us. Sure enough there were. Next time we get that kind of weather I'll give you a heads up. Unfortunately my forecasts are usually in a several hundred mile swath, so not really accurate to be of any help. Glad you're safe -- and the cats. Love that Gothic photo!

  3. I am very glad youre all sfe and sound Sharon.It must be scary when you arent sure whats going to happen.

    Leanne x

  4. so well written as ever. I loved reading about the storm as I sat in the safety of my warm home. How scary it must be while one rages over head.
    I did smile at you rounding up the cats. We have a saying in England, maybe you do too, which describes trying unsuccessfully to organise or control something. They say it's like herding cats.
    Glad you escaped without harm to property or any living thing.

  5. Thankyou for today's post, I really enjoyed it.
    Thank goodness we don't get those tornado's here, I have no basement. lol


  6. A wonderful commentary on an approaching storm and a peaceful ending.

  7. This time of year is so scary. I thought of you when they said there'd been tornadoes in Kentucky. We've been lucky so far, but with it staying so warm here, in the 80's, I worry every time a storm goes though.
    Stay safe.

  8. I agree with you about the gothic looking pic.Your posts always end to quickly for me I could read them for hours.Hope you have no more storms,stay safely cuddled up with pussycats.Love Jill xx

  9. We had our first tornado rodeo here, with one touching down north of us and tossing some center pivots around a corn field. The clouds started forming just over my house and I was watching for the signs of boiling clouds, which they were doing, the warm air changed in a matter of seconds from warm to cold and the race was on. Unfortunatly I don't have anywhere to go except a water run off ditch,so I am where I am. I am glad it didn't get too violent, but we had, snow, hail, boomers, and rain within an hour. I was worried about you when I heard about the storms as they went east. I am hoping that this isn't a hearld form what's to come this year...
    I am glad you are all safe.

  10. Glad the storm passed you by! Your gothic photograph is beautiful.

  11. BB; I hadn't really stopped to consider that tornados are apparently a North American weather pattern. I have to say the storm warnings make me feel just as ornery as the cats!

    Chris; I think that those who watch weather happenings develop a sense for the movement of storms. During our Wyoming years we noted that weather changes there took about three days to reach our family in New England.

    Leanne; The waiting for something to happen--or not--thankfully not[!] can be quite nerve-racking. The storm watch derailed my plans for the day, but I can't complain--we ARE safe.

    Kath; "Herding cats" does bring to mind a frustrating situation--I shall add the phrase to my lexicon of favorites immediately!

    Briony; I'm still a bit leary of the safe basement theory--does it mean that if the house flies away I'm left unharmed in the basement? I should think if that force of wind hit the house a lot of things would fall in on me!

    Lillian; I am so very thankful for the peaceful ending this time around. I'm thinking you may live near the path of these storms also.

    Janet; Although the storms have usually touched down north and west of our area, there is a measure of risk here. I surely don't have a 'business as usual' attitude when the wind is roaring by!

    Jill; I am fascinated by the shapes of old trees--much easier to note when the leaves are off. The cats were very happy to snuggle with me last night--they take their weather watching very seriously.

    Denim; Being familiar to some extent with Nebraska, I can visualize the pivots being hurled across a field. NE is so windy even without a tornado! The forces of weather are surely awe-inspiring--nothing we can do but wait it out.

    Jane; One storm down--another bout of weather predicted for tomorrow.
    I'm glad you liked the 'gothic' photo--that bit of woods is a real study in shades of grey on overcast days.

  12. Glad that storm passed on by! I remember a terrible storm one year that we lived in Kentucky and a giant oak in the yard fell against the house with one huge limb protruding into my daughter's bedroom! Another huge tree fell and knocked the back porch off! One of those in a lifetime would be enough. I enjoyed your photos.