Tag Archives: Mother Nature

Rainy Days

When I was a child a rainy school day was something to be dreaded. I hated donning rubber galoshes over my shoes and a bright yellow rain coat and coveralls for the wet trek to school. My mother would bundle me up so tightly that it’s a wonder I don’t have PTSD from it today. Once I waddled off to school and made it safely into the classroom it seemed to take ten whole minutes to strip out of multiple layers of winter protective wear. Having to stay inside the classroom for recess and lunch break was like an unjust prison sentence, though the teacher tried her best to occupy us with indoor games but what we really wanted was to go out and play, rain or no. Then, at the end of the day, donning the gear once more for the soggy trip back home was equally unpleasant. Cold, wet, and gloomy was the outlook for the day from the moment my eyes opened. No going outside to play at the park. No bike riding with friends around the neighborhood. Definitely no playing in the wet grass with all those fallen autumn leaves. Nothing to do except stare out the window at droplets of water falling into puddles and wishing that tomorrow would be dry and sunny.

The early teen years were a little better for the wet weather. By then I was not interested in playing or riding bikes with friends. And who wants to play in a bunch of wet leaves anyway? It was still a bit of a drag when it came to getting around while it was raining with my only real means of transportation being my bicycle or the public transit system. Waiting for a bus that isn’t due to arrive for another thirty minutes, because I just missed the one I was trying to catch, while being pelted by rather large rain drops driven by the wind would make me wish for that rain coat and coveralls, nothing on earth could get me in another pair of galoshes. On the other hand, riding a bike through the wind driven rain presented its own problems; usually because I would almost always be riding into the wind. And have you ever been splashed by a passing car driving through what seems like the only large puddle on that particular stretch of road at the exact moment you happen to there too? But the rain didn’t hamper most activities as a teen. I could still go over to a friend’s house or to the mall if I just had to get out of the house even if it meant getting a little wet. If it happened to be storming, though, I’d probably be left sitting at the window staring at droplets of water falling into puddles and wishing that tomorrow would be dry and sunny.

When I turned sixteen years old I had my own car and the rain meant nothing to me. Nothing until I realized that most of my friends didn’t have cars and depended more than usual on me to get wherever we were going when it was raining. At least back then gas was cheap! We would pile into my 1976 Datsun and brave anything that Mother Nature could muster up. Whoever was in the front passenger seat would dutifully wipe the inside of the windshield with a rag to keep it clear because the defroster didn’t work (hey, the car was free and twice handed down). The days of sitting at the window staring at droplets of water falling into puddles and wishing that tomorrow would be dry and sunny were over!

As an adult I find myself actually looking forward to rainy days (as long as they come in moderation). Staring at droplets of water falling into puddles is somehow peaceful. The sound of a hard steady rain assaulting the roof top and a fire crackling away in the fireplace sets the stage for a very relaxing evening. I even enjoy the thunder and lightning as it rattles the walls and windows of my house. Sometimes if it’s just a light drizzle I might take a walk in the crisp cleansing drizzly air. The smell of both the coming rain, and just after it has stopped invokes memories of childhood when I used to sit at that window staring at droplets of water falling into puddle and wishing that the next day would be dry and sunny. The memories are far from unpleasant. They send me back to a time of innocents. My options may have been limited on rainy days as a child but then so were my responsibilities. Yes, I still had to go to school in the rain but as an adult, working in the heavy construction industry, mainly concrete, I have to work in it. People think that construction shuts down in the rain. Not so! I’ve been soaked to my skivvies, cold, nose runny, and fingers numb trying to finish a concrete form for the next day’s pour. How I wished to be warm and dry just watching the rain fall through that window instead of having to toil in it.

Rainy days are essential for all of us to survive. We may not like to get wet when we have to go out in it but we appreciate what it brings us; life. It makes our trees grows tall. It cleans the air and washes the summer’s grit and grime from our streets. When the rain stops falling and the sun finally peeks through the gray clouds it leaves us with brilliant colors arced across the sky. Colors that have inspired myths and legends and are chased by children in vain. So next time you find yourself with nothing to do on a rainy day try sitting at the window staring at droplets of water falling into puddles and make a wish that the rain will continue to fall just a little while longer.

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Natural Disasters

Tornados, hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, and earthquakes all can seem like the wrath of God to those who witness their destruction from a far. Pure evil to those who survive them and must deal with the devastation left in their wake. I don’t claim to have lived through a natural disaster or even witnessed one from a far, except on TV, but having lived in California my entire life I have danced with the occasional earthquake. But when I see the destruction that wind can unleash I can’t help but feel a little lucky. Not just lucky to not have been there, but lucky that I have not had to endure the aftermath of it all. Grief for the fallen, the displaced, the injured, and the alone. Lucky not to know what it is like to have your whole world literally in ruins.

I imagined: Waking up to roaring thunder and flashes of lightening that illuminates my bedroom. A storm is coming. I turn on the local news for details only to find that my life may be changing soon. A twister has touched down two counties away and is hop-scotching its way here.Screenshot_2013-05-24-22-57-13

I hurry outside to secure the storm shutters. The rain is heavy and the thunder is loud. I didn’t realize just how many windows there were until now. Back inside, my wife and I warm ourselves with coffee and flip between the local news and the national weather channels. This is real! An F-4 and expected to grow. We decide to head down into the basement, the safest place in the house to be if the worst should happen.

Even in the basement we could hear the rain pounding harder and harder and the wind howling as it grew closer. The speckling of debris against the house was a terrifying gage to judge the storm’s proximity. Not just the house but the earth began to tremble as if a freight train was running through my house. We huddle in a corner and plead with God for our lives and our home and for the wellbeing of the whole community but we are interrupted by what I can only describe as our house exploding around us. This is that serene moment when you except your fate and prepare to die. Time crawls and what is in reality only a few seconds, seems to never end. The tremendous noise and destruction around you seem to fade into oblivion as you await the inevitable.

I wake up this time to silence. I cannot move or see anything except a small blotch of sun light that must be coming from above. The tornado has moved on to destroy lives in another town. It’s cold. I’m wet. I can taste blood in my mouth. Where is my wife? Pain is the last sense to come online. I think my arm is broken. Where is my wife? I muster up the strength to call her name. Nothing. Have I lost my beautiful wife along with our home to this monster? Why could it not have been me instead? Will someone come and rescue me or will I slowly starve to death buried in what used to be my basement? Am I even still in my basement? I have heard stories of people being carried away by the fierce winds of a tornado. Is this punishment for my sins? I can do nothing but sit helpless and evaluate my life and hope and pray that this is not as bad as it seems to me now but I know that in all likelihood it’s much worse.

I hear something moving nearby. I call her name again. My wife moans and answer. She’s alive! No matter what else the storm has taken from me it did not take my wife. No matter the devastation to ourselves, our home, or our town, we are alive and will get through this disaster. I call for her to come to me but she cannot. We are trapped not five feet apart but I cannot see her. We take comfort in that we are together and we know it’s only a matter of time until someone comes looking for survivors.

Almost forty-eight hours had passed, pinned in the most awkward position possible, before we could hear the rescue party in the distance. We held each other emotionally and cried because we knew that the two day long nightmare was coming to an end. We gathered strength from somewhere we could not fathom and called for help until a rescue dog heard us. I was never so pleased to hear a barking dog in all my life. Freed from a brief stint in our own personal purgatory, the devastation that was left in the wake of the storm incomprehensible. Not a house, nor tree, was left standing. We were among the fortunate to have only lost things. Corpses being dragged from beneath rubble made that very clear. Neighbors were sifting through trash heaps that used to be their homes while clinging to bits of their former lives.

Some would clean up, rebuild, and move on while others would relocate to where the windy monster does not feed. But there are few places on earth without some form of natural disaster. We live in Tornado Alley, atop seismic faults, and at the bases of volcanoes. We are aware of the pending danger and do our best to prepare and prevent but in the end we are all subject to her wrath. We take what Mother Nature throws at us. We learn from it and we get stronger. Most of us will never know her wrath first hand but those who live through it will forever be changed by it. The rest of us lucky enough to miss the destructive power of Mother Nature should be ready to lend a hand, or a dollar, at a moment’s notice when she strikes the less fortunate. It could be you or someone you love.