Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hung Out to Dry

My brother and I both received "traveling mercies" last night. After doing laundry and having supper at my house, I took him home amid some of the heaviest lightning activity we'd ever seen. Just as he dragged his laundry bag from the back seat, the first few raindrops began to fall.

About sixty seconds later I was headed out of town, the wind gusting at wildly random spots, when I drove under a tree just as a branch was being torn out of it onto the road. I ran over the branch - no time to react - with no damage to the car, though a pounding heart. As I passed out of town, I spotted a police car parked on the side of the road, pulled a U-ey, and drove up next to him to inform him of the branch. He said he'd move it, but seemed slightly distracted by the awe-inspiring lightning storm around us.

Now, I don't know what possessed me to do this, but somewhere I heard that you open the windows of a house in case of tornado to help equalize the internal and external pressure. And folks, this was the worst severe weather I've ever driven in. So, I reasoned, I should roll down the front windows a few inches.

Nothing dire came of this activity except a severe pelting of my face with wind, rain, and small bits of debris, but on the other hand, wind, rain, and small bits of debris were pelting my face.

Don't roll down your windows in a storm.

Almost home, something large obstructed the middle of the road. It was two full, upright trash cans sitting in the middle of the road like they were hawking homegrown produce, and the thunder was so loud, and the lightning so threatening, and the wind so strong, that the fabric umbrella sticking up out of one strongly resembled a person til I got closer.

Turning onto my street, I saw, along fallen branches in the neighborhood, that our street sign was down.

About thirty seconds after I entered the house, the lights darkened, air conditioner silenced. The power went out.

The drive to work was littered with twigs, stems, leaves, branches, and limbs. There is significant clean-up work ahead. The Ichthus music festival, which begins in a day or two, is in trouble because all of their large tents came tumbling down.

Some of the clean-up will take place in Ethan's back yard. I talked to him today. "Well, I was about fifteen seconds from death or serious injury," he reported. After walking up two and half flights of exterior wooden stairs around his building to get to his third story apartment, he went in and put his laundry bag down. A large peal of thunder cracked, but it wasn't thunder, it was a more resonant boom. A towering tree in the back of the yard had fallen on a tree in the middle of the yard, which hurtled several large limbs across the stairs he'd just climbed.

Prevenient grace: when you barely avoid being hung out to dry.

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