3/26/2010

The Power of Air

I'm back at my mom's until tomorrow and like most typical west Texas days, the wind is blowing like crazy. Some people underestimate the power of air. A lot of people take breathing and light breezes for granted because you get so used to having normal breezes and breathing is an involuntary action, but try walking outside on a day when the wind is blowing so hard that every exposed area of skin is sandblasted and tender to the touch after five minutes of standing outside and you quickly learn a new respect for air.

When I was 19 living on the ranch with Grandma and Granddad we had a tornado pass through the area. Thankfully the damage was minimal in town, and it didn't even come close enough to the house to be a threat, but it did pass close enough that Granddad and I stood out on the front porch and watched it twist and twirl. That was, hands down, one of the most amazing experiences of my life. We'd heard on the news that the tornado was headed our way. Gram and I said in tense anticipation for the moment when Granddad would tell us to run for the hole, everything outside seemed to be holding it's breath with us, and even the earth seemed to be waiting.

It was almost like in the movies when everything goes still and the world waits in tense anticipation. Eventually we heard it coming up the highway which seemed so weird to me because the highway is about three to five miles away from the house. It was the strangest sound ever. One of those sounds you will never forget and you will definitely never associate it with anything else but a tornado. It roared and sucked it's way along the highway and Gram got even more tense.

After a while Gram and I realized that we didn't know where Granddad was. Terror was evident in Gram's eyes. I made her stay at the kitchen table because it would've been easier for me to get to her there if I had to drag her to the hole, and I went in search of Granddad. I found him on the other side of the house standing in his long rain slicker, old beat up cowboy hat staying solidly in place despite the wind that shoved me around, and a mesmerized look on his face.

"What are you doing Granddad?"

"Watchin' that tornado. Where's your Grandma?"

"Sittin' at the table scared that you're dead."

"Well run, go tell her that I'm fine and get her to come watch this with us."

"Yes sir."

And off I go to tell Gram that her soulmate is standing on the front porch watching the tornado and wants to share the experience with us. Now you need to remember that Gram married Granddad when she was 16 and Granddad has done his best to protect her from scary stuff, so it was only natural when she walked up to Granddad and said:

"What the hell are you doing?"

"Don't worry honey, it's far enough away it's not gonna affect us. Just stand here and watch this with me."

So I need to tell you guys that I am one fearless chick (but only when Granddad says it's safe) so I step out on the porch with Granddad. Gram stayed behind the screen door and some how she positioned herself so she could grab both of us by the back of our slickers. Granddad and I stand in silent awe for about two minutes. I can feel Gram's hand shaking through my slicker which meant if I could tell she was shaking Granddad had known for quite a while that Gram was scared. Granddad took a step back, enough that he could hold Gram's hand without yanking her arm out of socket. We stood together as a family and watched the tornado spin, then suck back up into the clouds, then drop back to the ground and spin again.

Personally that was an amazing experience. I was so amazed by it all. To be honest I got a rush from being so close to something that can cause so much damage. Getting to watch it with my grandparents, the two people who mean the most to me in the world was a blessing in itself. Even now I can be sitting in my truck while the wind is blowing and feel it lift the tail end of my truck up and I remember that time. It's strange how wind has it's own ways of making people take notice of it.

5 comments:

Sarita Rucker said...

Wind is the element that makes me feel the most alive. A part of me always loves windstorms and hurricanes, even when 200 foot trees are falling down and forcing me to evacuate the house. Sure, things like that are scary, but even as I'm hurrying to get the cats into cat carriers and get out of the house a part of me is like "OMG, THE WIND IS AMAZING!!!"

I've never seen a tornado, though, and I think I hope I never do. As much as I love wind, tornadoes sound too scary. I'm glad that your encounter wasn't bad.

Linda Medrano said...

This is one of the most beautifully written and descriptive pieces I have read in a long long time. Your words bring the thing to life! I've never experienced a tornado, but after reading this, I think I almost experienced it there on the porch with you and your grandparents! Fantastic job! Thank you!

Willow Silverhorse said...

Thank you Linda, I really appreciate your kind words. And Sarita, I've never been through a hurricane, but I thought it was supposed to be way worse than a tornado, not sure though lol. Tornadoes are common occurrences here, usually they are pretty small ones that don't do much damage, but I've heard about ones that have ripped towns to shreds, etc. I hope I never experience a huge one.

SpiritPhoenix said...

Such a great story. I'm so happy for you that you were able to share this wonderful experience with two such beloved people.

Dirgesinger said...

There are no tornadoes and stuff like that around here, but I have seen many on television, and they are an amazingly frightening experience even on tv. I imagine what You felt watching it alive.