In the Midwest, tornadoes become a common side effect of spring and summer. When the ingredients are all there, the clouds fold in on themselves, a backwards undulation of smooth deep grays tinged with a yellowness, which is all that's left of the earlier sunshine. One of the tricks of this weather occurrence, though, is the way it can leave parts of the sky open and free. Still, the gray-yellow cast overhead seems to block any other light, and a weird sensation of waiting takes over. The trees wait. The birds wait. And even if the wind is whipping, the world seems to stand still.
People located in tornado country can often identify the shelf clouds bumbling around at the front of the storm, but behind that are those inwards sloping clouds, and having those in sight sends us to basements, safe rooms, cellars, or bathtubs. In my youth, some neighbors watched from their front porches while others joined us in our basement because they lacked a secure space. We had board games, books, a few decks of cards. A radio, snacks, flashlights, and candles. And though prepared, the sirens' wailing hum jangled our nerves. On a few occasions, we hauled ourselves up and down those stairs multiple times in one day, directed by the wax and wane of the sirens. But for us, rain, wind, hail, and lightening were the only ones to show up for this performance. And in all my days, I never witnessed a winding, twisting funnel cloud drop it's tail-end on our streets. I wish the people of Moore, Oklahoma could say the same.
When I wrote my novel wildflowers, Hurricane Katrina was fresh on my mind. In writing the book, I did a lot of research on natural ecological events, some weather related, some happening because the earth is a planet...made of planetary elements...elements no human can control. Over the years, I've come to believe that changes are happening regardless of the reasons why, and it only makes sense that if the debate ended, we'd have more time, energy, and resources to take action. How we each decide to take action is personal, but in the end, being good to other humans is part of equation. During this time of regrowth for Moore, Oklahomans, please consider researching ways to give that fit your time, energy, and resources, and keep in mind all the players. First responders, children, schools, small business owners, as wells as families. Every little bit counts, and as we know from past disasters, now more than ever, they need a shoulder to lean on.