Friday, April 17, 2015

Twas a dark and stormy night

In North Central Texas, we've had welcome predictions of rain all week--but nothing. Tonight it finally materialized. Predicted for six o'clock, which made Jordan rush home at five to be sure her car was in the garage and she wasn't driving in a storm. Nothing at my house (maybe 20 minutes away) until seven, when there were a few rounds of thunder and some drizzle. And then the heavens opened--not a storm but just a nice heavy rain. We can use it, although we've been blessed with rain quite a bit lately--something like nine inches opposed to a comparable period last year with three inches. Our lakes are filling up. But it will take more to end the drought in West Texas, and I worry about California--though I can't worry too much until they stop letting Nestle (a foreign-owned company) export bottled water under a contract that expired several years ago.
I see by the TV that the threat of severe storms has already moved east of us, and I can hear the rain slowing to a gentle drizzle. It's a wonderful night to be safely at home, tucked in with my Sophie, and about to write what  I hope is the last scene in Murder at the Mansion, the book I seem to have been working on forever. Wonder if I could work in the phrase, "Twas a dark and stormy night"? Naw, too corny.
When I was a kid, we had a summer cabin high on a dune at the very foot of Lake Michigan, and I used to love watching storms roll down the lake, with the water dark and roiling with huge whitecaps and the sky almost equally dark. I never feared storms--somehow my mom convinced me tornadoes didn't hit cities near water, and since we lived in Chicago we were safe. Now, of course, I know that's not true.
But I learned to fear tornadoes in Texas. I remember once when the sky turned green and my ex and I were running errands, with all four children at home with the nanny. At the time, we lived in one of those rare Texas houses with a basement. So I called and asked, "You do know what to do if there's a tornado, don't you?"
"Oh yes, ma'am." Long pause. "What?"
We hurried home.
The closest I ever came to a tornado was one night when restaurant adventurer Betty and I were having dinner at Pappadeaux. The sky turned black and then green, and rain poured down. So though we'd finished our meal, we ordered more wine. Later her husband would say "I can't believe the two of you just sat there and drank wine." What were we supposed to do? Go out in it? It turned out the great tornado of 2000 which leveled parts of Fort Worth and even damaged the downtown area had passed less than a mile from where we sat. I was sort of surprised the restaurant didn't tell us to take shelter under tables or something, but there was no change in pace.
When I got home, the phone was ringing. Jordan was living with me at the time, and she said, "I'm okay." Far cry from tonight when she has already emailed to see if I'm all right and warned me to charge my phone, get out candles, matches and flashlight.
Just while I wrote this, the rain has stopped and the thunder is distant. I wouldn't be sorry if it rained all night--thunder and lightning allowed but no tornadoes, please.

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