Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Furies

Without knowing why, both my husband and I sat bolt upright in bed at exactly the same moment.

Only seconds before we had both been sound asleep, but at that moment we felt panic and some kind of unknown terror.

The curtains were blowing straight into the room at a right angle.

As we flew out of bed down the stairs, I noticed that each step was slick with rain water.

We frantically searched the cabin for flashlights, candles, matches… some source of light.

Except for the wind, everything was eerily silent and we wondered why we were able to see.

The sky was lit up by what seemed like a pulsing strobe light. It was as if lightening was striking over and over again, but there wasn't any thunder calling after it.

Rain seeped in around the seams of the door and down through the stove vent as though wind and water had become one.

When we finally located two candles, lighters and a failing flashlight, we tried to go back to bed despite the unusual storm.

Stiff and wide-eyed awake, we were high in the cabin’s loft worrying about our children sleeping two floors below us in the tiny cabin's basement bedroom.

What if they woke up in the pitch black darkness of the basement and we didn't hear them?

What if a tree fell on the cabin?

Their room felt awfully far away.

Though we closed the window, the rain pounded relentlessly it’s tin roof and thunder began making up for lost time.

I am not usually frightened by storms, but I found myself afraid.

After a particularly loud thunderbolt shook the foundation of the small cabin whose location at the foot of the Appalachian Trail was chosen to provide a long weekend retreat, I threw the covers off.

I ran down the stairs and called over my shoulder to my husband, “I’m going to the basement!”

I crawled into the tiny single bed where my daughter slept and hugged her warm little body in to the curve of mine.

The basement bedroom was a windowless, cinder block cell buried deep in the forest floor.

Thankfully, the sounds of the storm were muffled there and I slept as well as any grown up can when sharing a twin bed with a four year old.

In the morning we woke to the world’s most beautiful day. The sky was bright blue and birds were singing.

The little cabin was whole, but without power and water.

Looking outside we discovered that a giant pine tree fell and crushed the cabin's fence.

Perhaps the sound of the tree smashing the wooden posts was the noise that woke us so suddenly?

We later learned that a tornado had touched down less than a mile from our cabin.

I am haunted most, not by near misses and what might have been, but by the storm's eerie light, pulsing, bright and silent, like white, hot anger.


Sayre said...

A nighttime tornado is probably the scariest of all storms. I was driving home from New Mexico to Oklahoma City one night and there was a terrific storm. As the lightning lit up the sky, I realized that there was a tornado less than a block away from me. That thing passed right over the hood of my car, doing a skip. It lifted the front end and banged it up a little, but dropped it back down before I had a chance to freak out. That came later, after I was safe.

K should have gone down to the basement with you. You would have ALL been safer then. Living in tornado alley for 8 years teaches you a few things.

Stacia said...

Tornadoes are scary stuff. We've woken the kiddos and crowded into the closet a dozen times, though only once did the tornado actually touch down. As you said, the near-misses are bad. Knowing such fury exists is worse.

Magimom said...

Scary! I remember when I was about 8 years old, I woke up in a gully down the hill from our house - we were in the rain on the way back into the house. A tornado struck less than a mile below our house in the valley. It was one of the scariest moments in my life! So glad that things did not take a turn for the worse!

jess said...

Oh, wow, J. Thank God you're all safe.

R said...

mega scary... I'd have been terrified... so glad all of you are safe!

furiousBall said...

yeah, i definitely don't miss that part of the southeast. remember the really bad tornadoes that hit up near Roswell about 10 years ago, i was in Hotlanta at that time and crapped by pants pretty mightily that night

Moobs said...

Sounds like it would have been a good time for a Park Ranger to appear at the door and reassure you.

Kim said...

I, too, am scared of storms.

Up until a few years ago I was fearless....and then something changed me.

I bet you are changed too.

Cold Spaghetti said...

YIKES. WOW. Very scary... and wonderful that all are okay and no one is permanently against cabin/wilderness sleeping!

John Ross said...

Grew up about 15 or 20 miles from where the movie Twister was filmed.

Yes, tornados are very bad. An Aunt of mine had both her new house and her old house on the same block leveled in about thirty seconds.

As always your writing is well worth waiting for. well worth it.

WILLIAM said...

As usual you spin a good yarn.

JoeinVegas said...

That sounds like a fun vacation

Gina said...

I am so glad you guys are okay. That would have freaked me out for some time. Great story telling. You are so easy to read.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness you are safe, but I can't believe you left K up there and did not insist he come to the basement fortress too! I had heard of storms over the weekend and I'm always worried because of the big tree near your house. I had no idea you were that near the tornado! My mother's intuition must have been tweaked since I felt I really needed to talk with you this weekend. Glad all of you are safe. Love Grandma Seattle

Woman with kids said...

Oh. Wow. Must go hug the boys... Thank God you're all ok

Cynthia said...

Lordy! Wizard of OZ + midwestern upbringing = deep seated fear of tornadoes. Happy to live where they don't happen. (just earthquakes and a 14,000 foot volcano in the distance) So thankful you are all safe!

bzybead said...

Glad y'all made it through another storm. xo

carol at A Second Cup said...

Thanks goodness you and your family are okay. Nature can be scary impressive at times.

matt said...

scary... but also beautifully written.

motherbumper said...

I'll admit, I love storms but not as much as before parenthood. Since G was born, it seems we have near tornados every summer and each time instead of pulling on the rain gear and heading out, I take her to safety and ride it out. Kids, they make you responsible and stuff ;) Beautiful post J.