I woke suddenly, rolled to my other side, disturbing a cat or two, peered at the lighted display of the digital clock. A few minutes past 4 a.m. Something seemed not right. I lay still, realizing almost at once that the 'not rightness' was the glow sifting down the hallway.
If one of us treks the few yards to the bathroom, or even out to the living area of the house at night it is seldom necessary to flip on a light as several small 'night lights' are strategically positioned.
I waited drowsily, expecting to hear J.'s feet padding back to the bedroom.
What I heard was a slash of rain against the window panes and the loud whine of the wind.
After a moment I swung out of bed, shoved my feet into slippers. Poking my head round the bedroom door I discovered the light source. J. sat, unclothed, at his desk peering at the laptop screen.
"Whatever are you doing?" I inquired with some asperity.
"Didn't you hear the phone? There's a tornado warning."
I wallowed in a mental fog, attempting to make sense of this pronoucemnt.
[I tend either to not sleep, or to fall into a heavy stupor. The hearing in my left ear is badly affected by tinnitis....has been for about a decade.
I concluded that although I hadn't been aware of the phone, its ringing was likely what woke me.]
"I'd been awake listening to the wind when the phone rang," J. explained. "Its the automated set-up which alerts everyone in the county. It looks like the storm will be here in 10 to 15 minutes."
"Oh," I said, none too cleverly. "Shouldn't we be dressed?"
J. a bit testy: " I didn't stop to dress before answering the phone!"
I made use of the bathroom, gathered up the jeans I wore yesterday, found a heavy battered hoodie that is my favorite early morning garment. Dazedly, I made the bed, even as a part of my mind told me that it hardly mattered whether the quilt was straight and the pillows plumped. If the roof should be lifted from the house or the building itself hurled from its foundation, an unmade bed would be of little consequence.
J. thumped about, opening the drawer for clean underwear, and left the room fully dressed and obviously far more in his right mind than I.
"Take cat food downstairs and get the cats down there."
I hastened down with the canister of kibble, filling the spare dispenser I keep there, brought up and filled a water bowl. The boy cats trekked back along the stairs with me, intrigued.
J. rattled in the kitchen, gathering up cat bowls, a spoon, an unopened tin of wet food.
Aware of something unusual but possibly beneficial, cats trooped after him, watching as he set a row of dishes along the staircase. I picked up the two old cats, Raisin and Eggnog, thrusting them into the stairwell and closing the door. Chester and Mima, always the dimwits, disappeared under the bed. Futile to even think of rounding them up.
Outside wind now thundered and roared through thrashing tree branches.
Sitting on the edge of the bed to pull on wool socks and my shoes, I flinched as hail struck windows and outside walls with a clatter. The phone rang again: M. a mile down the road checking to make sure we were headed to safety. I knew that G. would be in a panic, herding her 3 cats and the 2 dogs into what she refers to as 'the safement.'
I picked my way downstairs, avoiding the train of felines, stood looking muzzily around the big room with the rocking chairs, my cutting table, my sewing machine on its walnut desk.
I followed J. into the back of the basement where a door opens into the outside cement stairwell.
A trickle of water appeared under the door.
Reading my thoughts J. stated, 'The drain isn't plugged; its the force of the wind blowing
rain down the steps.'
He opened the inner door a few inches letting in the scent of rain and wet earth.
Even as we watched it seemed that the flailing of the tree branches above was slowing somewhat.
Testing the weather after the storm.
The shelves in the basement are laden with canned fruits and veggies.
I mentioned the need for bottled water.
I thought of the warm jackets, a leftover from Wyoming years, hanging in the closet near the door.
Candles on top of the big wooden cupboard. Fuzzy throws on the backs of the chairs.
One could hole up in the finished side of our basement quite cozily!
I swtiched on the radio, moved the tuner past buzzing sounds to find a local station.
A generic storm warning segued into a county-wide assessment.
"The storm is approaching the Sano district in eastern Adair County," came the newscaster's voice.
"It's past us then!" said J. "That burst of hail 10 minutes ago is all we'll get."
Willis ensconced on the butcher block.
He loped upstairs, remarking happily about his foresight in having driven both trucks up to the shelter of the barn late last evening.
'You might as well make coffee,' I suggested, still listening to the radio.
The storm was moving rapidly eastward, approaching Russell County where we have friends.
I offered an unspoken prayer for their safety, gratitude for our own.
The boy kittens had unearthed a battered catnip mouse and were smacking it about the room.
I removed Charlie-cat from the nest he was making in a neat pile of quilt fabric, stacked the fabric in a zippered bag and placed it on the ironing board near my completed quilt blocks.
Eggnog, my dear old girl, meowed anxiously from the stairs.
'It's alright now, ' I told her, following the smell of coffee.
J. had the TV on and sat in front of it sipping coffee,
'Yours is ready, I put in the sugar and cream.'
I thanked him, prowled the kitchen with mug in hand, looked out at the still black landscape beyond the glow of the yard light.
J. had switched to a news channel. Having explained to me that the high ridges in our western end of the county provide a bulwark against most advancing tornados, he began to expound on the
news show in progress.
Too much--I don't do mornings--particularly not withTV and running commentary.
Downstairs again, I kindled a fire, settled into the small green-painted rocker drawn close enough to feel the growing heat. I drained the coffee mug, sat quietly, realizing that I felt mildly unwell.
My body seemed heavy, my mind working sluggishly.
Small constant tremors zinged along my shoulder blades. I was aware of every tired and aching muscle.
I stepped to the sewing table, switched on my machine. Neatly arranged on an open instruction book were the pieces for a quilt block, placed there when I stopped sewing on Sunday night.
One unit hadn't been cut for the block. I picked up chunks of fabric, laid them back down, considering.
I recalled a phrase from my childhood: my mother's friend, the head organist at church, had encouraged another woman to play for a church service.
Commenting several days later, Mrs. Y. had stated sadly, "Eleanor's manner with the hymns reminds me of elephants walking through water."
Standing at the table, peering at my ruler, hardly daring to slice into cloth, I decided that my brain this morning had the same lack of momentum--elephants lumbering through mud, indeed!
Hot oatmeal porrige might help.
We had now been out of bed for two hours.
To my surprise, though the lamp glowed softly in the living room, J. was not there. I tip-toed to the bedroom door, peered in at the comfortable hump under the quilt.
Downstairs again by my fire I ate slowly, a bowl of dry cereal topped with yogurt and cream.
After a bit I swept the floor, whisking up bits of thread and cat fluff, assisted by Nellie and Edward.
I stitched, pressed, cut pieces for two more quilt blocks.
I worked slowly, an hour passing before I heard J. stirring above.
I prepared his breakfast, pointed out that Willis had draped himself over the butcher block in the middle of the kitchen, something he hasn't done before. Clearly the cats were well aware that our day had started with disruption.
The kittens milled about the sliding door and I opened it to the mild wet air.
J. spotted wild turkeys in the field across the creek, several more were foraging on the corn ground.
I popped bread into the toaster, went out to snap a few photos, plucked a wet door mat from the grass and slung it onto the edge of the porch.
Pebbles the Horse trumpeted, sensing the possibility of grain.
It was scarcely lighter at 8:45 than it had been at daybreak.
The time is headed toward noon, the heavy rain has slowed to a persistant drizzle.
My wits have [somewhat] reassembled themselves.
I need to put on my boots and deal with litter boxes.
The kitchen wants a bit of tidying, then I'll return to the warm and cozy space downstairs to play with my pretty fabrics.
J. has gone out to his projects in the shop.
The cats have all found comfy spots to recover from their early morning--Teasel in the linen shelves, Bobby and Edward on the bed, Nellie [where he shouldn't be] on the buffet. Willow has collapsed on the sofa and Charlie is asleep on a cushion near my cutting table.
The two old lady cats dream near the fireplace.
It may be that before this grey day ends I'll be tucked up for awhile in the old rocker while the fire crackles soothingly.
We have been safe, 'in the hollow of God's hand' while yet another storm has passed by.
Bobby and Edward
Teasel on her blanket in the linen cupboard