It’s Saturday Night, Take III

We’ll all waiting for some snow.  Francis, the yellow lab next door; the town of Morris; and me.  Funnily enough, we’re due for a winter storm, which will hit between midnight tonight and midnight tomorrow.  Then we’re due for a blizzard, which will hit between midnight tomorrow and midnight on Monday.  A foot of snow total, and white-out conditions.

Meanwhile, I’m eating the Most Delicious Orange in the world, pretending to enjoy my raspberry green tea (it’s bitter, but Dr. Oz told me to drink it, so I’m obeying), and watching Little Miss Sunshine.

And waiting for the storms, of course.

Head for Shelter

Storms come up quickly on the prairie.

One minute you’re walking home from campus, chatting with a friend, and the next the wall of black that was in the distance seconds ago is looming overhead, bending trees and tossing hail the size of golf balls.

We ran, my friend and I, to the only refuge in sight: the liquor store.

Amidst the glinting bottles we waited, dripping onto the linoleum and ignoring the stare of the cashier.

He didn’t even ask to see our I.D.s.

I’ve Found My Grounds

This morning was the third morning in a row to host a 3 am thunderstorm, and I’m afraid I’ve developed a routine: leap out of bed at the first boom of thunder, frantically unplug all electronics (fan included), get a drink of water while peering sleepily at the sky, and then fall back into bed, grateful to have a few more hours before my alarm goes off.

Unfortunately, said routine leaves me exhausted throughout the day, and when I’m exhausted, I tend to do stupid things.  This afternoon, for example, I was making my way through the tunnel toward the post office (to drop off a package for work).  A man walked by in front of me, and in the nanosecond of distraction it cost me to smile and say hi, I ran straight into a wall, face first.  I know he saw, because I could hear him chuckling around the corner.

And then, making dinner, I left the stove burner on and promptly set and oven mitt on top of it.  I wouldn’t have noticed until the whole kitchen was on fire, but my roommate smelled something burning and came to investigate.  The poor mitt is currently recuperating by an open window, and I’m sure she resents me greatly for the large black char that has taken the place of her lovely stitched holly berries.  Ironic, I suppose.

I just finished reading The Great Gatsby, and then spent a few moments basking in the perfection of that novel.  The beginning and ending mesh together, as if the middle were one tooth of a cog spinning very slowly, until on the last page another tooth fell into place next to it, with an echoing ‘click.’  I sound stupid now, but I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that I still like Gatsby.  I’ve been saying that Scott Fitzgerald is my favorite for years, based mostly on one read in eleventh grade.  I’ve always felt a little guilty about this, as if I’ve had no grounds for my claim.  Now, twenty-one, I’ve found my grounds.

Storm Season

I’m overly cautious where storms are concerned.  Always have been.  As in, first sign of severe weather, I take to the basement, bringing with me all my valuables: Laptop, baby blanket, poetry book from grandpa, old journals.  And of course, whenever other living creatures are around, I do everything I can to get them to shelter as well.

A few years ago, for example, we were under a tornado warning.  My mother, who maddeningly doesn’t always sense the urgency such a warning brings, thought the dogs could just stay upstairs.  Ruby, our younger dog, who was still a puppy at the time, was terrified of the basement, and mom told me to leave her up there.  It wasn’t worth the trouble, and anyway, she might let loose on the carpet.  “Are you crazy?” I screamed, “I’m not letting the damn dog die just because you won’t bring her downstairs!”

Not one of my finer moments, and actually the first time (of few) I swore in front of my mom.

Anyway, my adrenaline fueled by the whipping wind outside and my own terror, I somehow managed to carry fifty pounds of struggling German Shepherd down the stairs.

Nowadays, being twenty-one, in college, and endowed with the slight recklessness that goes with the aforementioned, I have lost most of my fear of storms, at least temporarily.

So when a cookout at a riverside park coincided with approaching severe weather, I squared my shoulders and said we should proceed regardless.  Enter six people, none with grilling experience.  Enter eight skewers of shish kabobs that cooked slowly while lightning flashed in the distance and the sky slowly faded from dark blue to dingy green.  It was like a horror movie; there were several points when audience members surely would have screamed at us to go back.  Swallows were flying around madly, for instance, and various items kept blowing away from our picnic (a container of strawberries, a plate of raw meat juice, a box of tinfoil, etc.).  Cloud roiled and morphed into goblins and dragons. The few RVs that were parked in campsites seemed abandoned, their blinds fanned tautly over dark windows.  A man drove by in a pickup truck, drinking what looked suspiciously like a can of beer, and leering at us from beneath a faded cap.

I have to give us credit; we stayed until the rain started pouring and the wind started whipping, and would have stayed longer had our dinner not been in jeopardy.  The kabobs were finished in the oven at John’s* house, and were delicious, if a tad soggy.

During the storm (hard to see, but it was raining as hard as I’ve ever seen it rain.  We were soaked):

And afterwards, taken as I tromped home through the puddles:

I just noticed that there’s a rainbow in the right side of this shot. Not bad for an amateur with an iphone, eh?

*In case you haven’t suspected before now, and just for posterity regardless, know that I always change names in my posts.  I generally don’t ask permission before I post descriptions of situations that involve other people, so keeping them anonymous seems the least I can do.

Storm Approaching

Looking up from Mac to see that the sky had turned suddenly, frighteningly dark, I just walked outside to stand on the front steps and survey the oncoming storm.

The wind had died down, and hardly a leaf stirred.  Instead, they seemed to curl into themselves, seeking shelter in fragile stems and thin branches.

Now, back on my bed inside, I can feel the storm changing the pressure in my ears, slowly creeping over the house; it will situate itself perfectly before it strikes.

In the meantime, I’ll be trading summer shorts and sandals for a sweatshirt and a blanket shawl.  I’ll be reading Tom Sawyer with a flashlight, and making a cup of tea in the microwave.

I’ll be constantly, obsessively, checking the online weather radar.



We Shovel At Midnight

Thinking five inches sufficient for a little while, the storm let up at 10 pm, as I was walking to work.  It was inhaling again when I walked home at midnight, sucking snow into drifts against doors and windows, and up into the sky.  As I was stamping a path to my door, my friend Ben walked out of his apartment with a shovel.  “I just love shoveling,” he said.

So I joined him, snatching a shovel from beside my own door.  It was flimsy blue plastic, used by the maintenance staff for the light snow we’ve come to expect this winter.

We began our work, dipping and bowing, scraping snow onto the lips of our shovels and tossing it off again, wincing as icy pellets blew back into our faces.  It was thrilling to be outside so late, voices echoing off sleeping buildings.  Two others joined us after a while, and we all talked a little, mostly about the futility of what we were doing; another wave of the snow would be upon us in an hour.  We justified, saying that we were getting the difficult snow, the icy stuff that could only be removed if one threw one’s shoulder against the handle of the shovel, slamming it down against the sidewalk.  But really, it didn’t matter if everything was covered by morning.  The point of midnight shoveling is not to accomplish much.  It’s something you only do once, when you’re twenty-one, and it’s February, and the first real snow of winter has come screeching across the prairie to bury your campus.

We finished at 1, having shoveled every bit of sidewalk in the apartment square; the main paths surrounding the common building, and the small ramp-like ones leading up to each door.  There wasn’t much of a ceremony to putting the shovels back, to saying good night and trudging upstairs to bed.  Only the storm was reverent; bowing for a moment to survey our work before hurrying to erase it before anyone else could see.