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Monday, March 12, 2007

Spring Fling Questions...

It is almost Spring and I thought I would post some seasonal themed questions to start the week off right...
What is your favorite part of spring?
The weather begins to warm, the birds are heard singing and chatting sweetly with one another. The sun just seems to burn a bit brighter and the sky to glow a deeper shade of blue. The breezes bring all the new, fresh scents in through the open are beginning to gently ease their way up through the dirt. Seeing the blossoms beginning to pop on our trees. Kipper's new warmer weather haircut, getting out to clean and re-arrange our all too messy garage, getting the deck bits and bobs in place. Taking more and longer walks in the evening. The holidays...St. Patrick's Day and, of course, Easter. Spring is renewal, rebirth. All things seem possible in the Spring.
Your least favorite?
The storms that inevitably arrive...the allergies that cause all of us to cough, sputter and wheeze.
What's the most severe weather event you've experienced?
I have ridden out a few Category 1 and 2 hurricanes, run from the stronger ones and I have been through a few very bad tornado spanning storms in my 50 years. Still, the worst severe weather I have encountered was during the Fall of 2003. Bill and I had driven to Tennessee so we could bring my Mother back to our home in Ohio for Thanksgiving. It was unusually warm and there were many storm watch notices in place here, there and everywhere in between. We crawled along the highway through several rough bouts of torrential rain and high wind, fierce lightning and even some small hail. Thankfully, all seemed to be easing as we exited the interstate and drove the last few miles to Mom's house.
We arrived, the dogs played, we had a nice dinner and a few laughs.
There were still watches in the area but nothing seemed imminent. We cleaned up the kitchen, Bill took the dogs out for a little walk and Mom and I finished her packing.
8pm came and so did more active weather. We were listening to the television as we puttered around the house and nothing seemed to be too close to the area we were in.
It was now about 9pm and the weather radio seemed to be in constant alert mode. The weather team on television was all a buzz about the terrible storms approaching (Mom's television stations came from Knoxville, she lived about 5o miles West). Mom had no basement but did have a inner bathroom, one with no windows. She always kept
a radio and flashlight in there and I grabbed 2 quilts off the beds and placed them in the tub just to be a bit prepared. I went back to the bedroom Bill and I stayed in and picked up my purse and little bag. I was going to get ready for bed, more to keep myself busy that anything else! I had both bags in one hand and was petting Kipper (who was asleep on that bed) when things got really wild. I was looking out of the window and saw the trees blowing at very odd angles, then, it all stopped. Too quiet. There was a greenish tint to the dark sky and I could hear something that just was not a normal sound.
I grabbed Kipper with my free hand and arm (Thankfully, he was even lighter than he is now!), headed back up the hallway and yelled out, "Bill..." Before I could utter another word, I hear my husband shout, "I know..head for the bathroom!" He came running, literally pushing my mother out in front of him. Her dog, Abby, was between his feet as they fell through the door to the bathroom. At that moment, it hit. I can not say whether it really sounded like the freight train other tornado victims describe but it was a loud roar mixed with terrible banging and hammering sounds and thuds. The lights went out and we huddled in that bathroom for just a few seconds...then it all became still.
It was so pitch black in the house so I was grateful to have the flashlight. Mom used to live along a lake, out in a heavily wooded area. There were neighbors though, and in a while some of them, not knowing we were there with Mom, came to check on her. They advised us not to venture outside but Bill did go with one of the men to check on another neighbor.
When he returned, he said that, from what they could see, it was pretty bad. I knew that there was a lot of damage to Mom's screened in rear porch and that trees were laying all over the house and leaning against the outer walls and windows. We could pick up some radio from town and they were describing horrible damage in the area. The town itself was not affected so emergency crews were being dispatched out from the city to check our area and begin work. All residents were told to stay put and wait for daylight to try to get outside. It was a LONG night. None of us slept well...okay, the dogs slept soundly, but none of the humans. We could hear chainsaws and sirens all night long. Eerie and quite unsettling.
As the sun broke, the sky was so blue, the air cool and fresh. The wooded areas were just decimated. Mom had 50 trees uprooted, BIG trees. She escaped losing her roof but it was very damaged and she did have to have it replaced. Some of the neighbors were not so
fortunate. Roofs were gone, cars crushed, walls collapsed, trees laid across roads making any travel impossible. Just on the other side of the lake, 2 people were killed. Up the road, 2 more died. We felt insanely lucky but so very sad for those families.
We had to stay for 5 more days and were eventually able to get to town and buy dinners, hot coffee for Mom, cold drinks for us.
The night it hit, the news about the storm went out on television so, of course, our family and friends here, and in other parts of the country, knew what had happened. We had no way of reaching them to say we were safe. Thankfully, the lake security police made rounds as best they could, talked to us (and others of course), took down phone numbers (from each person) and were able to go into town and call out. They called my brother who was then able to relay the news to others.
No cell service as the tower went down and no telephone for 5 days but on that day, the day we had to leave, it was re installed. Mom insisted that we go home and she would follow for Christmas. She just could not leave when so much had to be done. We stayed until she had telephone service and she did have friends that stayed with her until the electricity returned.
Leaving was so hard. I knew it would be rough on Mom and I hated to leave her with all of it. Bill *had* to return, as did I, but that never makes it easier.
I could write a book about the way the area looked before and how it looked after....write about the good people that cared and those that preyed on the victims. I could go on and on about how scary it all was but you know? So many others have lived through far worse...or, all too horribly, died. So, we don't complain, just remember.
My heart goes out to all those who lose loved ones in storms and who lose their homes and livelihoods. Nature is not always kind but we must remember that we are not in control...all we can do is prepare and do our best to stay safe. Just make your preparedness lists now, know where you will go, what you will
Tornadoes are a fact any time of the year but so many occur in the Spring. Most people will never be affected or will be only moderately touched. Just be prepared. That never hurts!
Daylight Savings Time began last Sunday, three weeks earlier than in previous years. How do you feel about DST? Love it, hate it, couldn't care less?
I hate getting my mind and body used to both time changes. I don't mind having more daylight in the evening but hate that Grace is now getting on the bus in the near darkness. That will improve but it does make it so much harder to rise in the morning when it is so dark. Not that I am ever an easy early morning riser!


jafabrit said...

I love the smell of spring. I can't think of a negative at the moment.
I remember in England days of it being almost pitch black at 5pm. I would go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. So I love dst.
Never had to live through a storm like you, that is so scary.

ps. why did you call your doggie kipper (a kipper lover is curious)

Jen said...

DST didn't bother me this year, it usually doesn't affect me much anyhow.
I like how everything begins to "rebirth" in the Spring but what I hate about Spring is that means Summer is coming and I HATE the Summer

Susie said...

Well, it almost feels like we skipped spring here! It's warm enough to be summertime :)
DST?? Love it. I love the extra hours of daylight. More time to do the things we enjoy!!

RoseMary said...

Hard to say anything negative about spring--except the allergies I usually get. The worst weather event--well, I've been through a couple of bad tornadoes but the worst was the ice storm of 2001. We had no electricity for 12 days and we couldn't even go outside of the house for three days due to breaking trees and limbs. Glad everyone came through your tornado okay!

Cheryl Wray said...

These are great questions! I may have to use them on my Random Tuesday next week!
I LOVE Spring. I seriously just feel happier this time of year! Love it!!!

Tammy said...

Storms are the worst things about spring and summer...I've not ever been through a tornado or seen one...although when under stress I dream about them..go figure??
But, I did see the damage one caused in Jackson TN...horrible!!