Severe weather is never a good thing. No, it’s a reminder that Mother Nature, not us, is in charge of the elements. And at no time do I feel more out of my element than when I am scrambling for a flashlight, matches and candles, while simultaneously kicking my own butt for not setting aside water for drinking and flushing the toilet. It’s quite the sight to behold.
I can’t say I wasn’t warned. But being the last person on the planet to ever check the weather (on the theory that it doesn’t matter how good/bad the weather is, a person still has to get done that which is on his/her to-do list), I’ll have to say I was surprised that we had the potential for tornadoes.
Last Sunday, I heard secondhand about the unofficial Wizard of Oz reenactment that was to be stated live across the Midwest. And that was through overhearing someone at church that morning questioning whether we should be having a Christmas program planning meeting later that night, due to the severity of the weather that was heading our way.
I had an interview and errands early Sunday afternoon. But I would periodically glance at the sky and pat myself on the back that I had been right not to become too alarmed regarding the storm that obviously wasn’t going to materialize. Scratch that thought at dusk, when, faster than I could cry out, “Auntie Em, Auntie Em,” all kinds of heck broke loose, preventing me for a good hour from even retrieving the groceries from my car.
Under the usual cloud of evening darkness, enormous dark clouds appeared and unapologetically gave us all they had. When I thought nature’s wrath had subsided a bit, I left home to pick up something from a friend’s house. Okay, and I may have wanted to gawk at the storm damage a little, too. The top street name on a road sign in town was spinning circles, propeller-style, around itself in a way that said “beware.” On the way back, I had to reroute myself twice due to large branches that were down across the road.
When I arrived back home, mercifully unscathed, I knew we had lost power. It was most noticeable by the absence of the glow of the television through the lace curtains of a small room that faces the road. However, the absence of technology had prompted my son and daughter to light every candle within 100 miles, turning our home into a grotto, so I approached cautiously, praying they had not already begun burning down the house.
For a few minutes, the fire safety threat successfully took my mind off the storm. Since TV was out and I had not purchased replacement batteries for the radio, we couldn’t receive storm updates and didn’t know how hard the rest of our national region was getting hit. Instead, we settled into a round of feeling powerless and sorry for ourselves.
“I can’t believe we lost power just when I was about to start my homework,” my son declared. “And just when I was headed to clean my room,” my daughter added. They continued to swap lies as I, our household’s only actual performer of productive Sunday night activities, legitimately lamented storm effects. For me, the storm had come at the absolute worst time, the 11th hour of the week when I try to accomplish anything left undone from the previous 6 ¾ days of the week.
Reconciling bank accounts and filing by the open flame of a candle sounded foolhardy. Returning phone calls to people who couldn’t answer seemed pointless. Cooking ahead for the week on a non-operable electric stove was not an option. And my Sunday night winter tradition of shaving my legs for the week also became impossible. I felt as powerless as our house.
Then a lone bright idea came to my dim mind: We would go to sleep early. I distributed soft plush blankets to all of us and at 9 PM we snuffed out the candles and hit the hay on our respective couches in the parlor. The dark and stormy night became the best Sunday night in recent history.