On Sunday, Roy and I were outside trying to do some catch-up on the mowing and yard work that had stalled during a week of rain. It was Roy who first noticed the menacing funnel cloud forming to the south-east. We couldn’t quite believe our eyes.
I now have a better understanding of the so-called storm chasers — those crazy souls who risk life and limb to study tornadoes up close. Since the killer Edmonton tornado of 1987 and the more recent Pine Lake disaster, each season the media drums warnings and safety precautions into us. Intellectually, we understand the dangers. Yet there’s something mesmerizing about this phenomenon: the power, the fury, the sound, the spectacle, and the inherent danger. We watched it roll and lift, twist and turn. We heard it roar like a jet plane. It seemed very close. Of course, we had no idea how quickly it could overtake us if things got ugly. As I ran to the basement to take shelter, Roy ran for the camera.
I was annoyed at him. There’s a widow-maker in the offing and he’s snapping pictures. I was too cowardly to stay and watch. I couldn’t have stood the embarrassment of dying in a preventable incident. I can hear the talk at the funeral now, “I always thought she was smarter than that. Everyone knows you go into the basement. No one in her right mind watches it approach. What could she have been thinking? I guess it’s true, when your time comes:”
I did watch the devastating hail and heavy rainfall that accompanied the funnel cloud. Roy parked the car and newest pickup under the protective cover of a lean-to roof. The first few hailstones sounded like gunshots as one-by-one they bounced off the grain bins and the metal roof on our house and garage. As the storm worsened, the hail began accumulating in the eavestroughs, in drifts along the patio, flowerbeds and walkways. It’s only later that I noticed that my two small garden beds look like a salad and that the leaves of trees and flowers had been pulverized and shredded. The masonite siding on the house and garage took a beating. Now that the surface has been damaged, the integrity of the product is in question. Wet masonite can’t be a good thing.
Before long, Roy started checking the adjacent fields of canola and wheat for damage. In one canola field, the blossoms are gone and the leaves stripped off. The wheat (which is heading out) is bent or broken. Thank God for hail insurance! So between hail and crop insurance and our homeowners’ policy, we now play the insurance game of claims, waiting periods, adjusters, deductibles and hopefully settlement.
The touch-down occurred about a mile away. That’s close enough for me, thank you! I guess if the photos turn out we’ll have a lasting reminder of a near miss. A good thing for the family coward, from where I sit.
*Reprinted with permission