1. My electricity went off the other night for a few hours. I realized I’m not completely comfortable with the lack of sound of electronic hums. I tried to listen to my Ipod, but it just reminded me how dark and quiet it really was. The lights came on around one in the morning and I immediately fired up my computer so I could be lulled to sleep by something, anything, that was on Netflix. It’s not so much I can’t be alone with my thoughts. It’s just nice to have a background noise to them.
2. Today we are under severe weather warning. Which, if you’re from the South, you know it means tornadoes. Logically I’m not afraid of having to live through another one again. Instead, I’m just weary of the worry it all brings. This is repayment for the lack of winter this year.
3. I finished a book of a certain genre that I have been lax about getting published. It’s just that mentally I decided not to publish in that genre anymore and it’s like I’ve already said goodbye. But it’s a shame to have something completed and not see it to the end. I promised myself I would do something with it this year. I just haven’t had the inspiration to do it. Maybe soon.
4. The coffee I bought with shots of fake caramel flavor just doesn’t taste as good as I hoped for.
5. I’m eating Indian food for lunch. Seems decadent.
6. My daughter offered to make me breakfast this morning. It still makes me sniffle that she does.
7. I haven’t written a poem in a while. I really should. I’ll give it some thought.
There’re more things on my mind today, but a girl has to keep some secrets.
Today we had a tornado warning. Yes, mid-south in January. Aren’t we supposed to be in the middle of winter? I am endlessly fascinated by storms. Having lived through a tornado that hit my house, you would think I’d be the exact opposite. Instead it fed into my fascination with all things weather and how powerless we are to it.
I’d like to think it was my continuous research on weather that saved mine and my daughter’s life the day the tornado hit. There was no warning at all and we were playing in our above ground pool. Nat was a baby, not even a year yet and she loved floating in the water. It was not storming, the sky was blue and it was a typical hot southern summer day. It wasn’t until the birds stopped singing did I think something was wrong. It just became eerily still. Not a sound.
I grabbed Nat, wrapped her in a towel and was climbing off the deck to the pool when suddenly there were clouds in my yard. Not ominous clouds, but white fluffy clouds gliding through the yard. I raced toward the house, leaving the sliding glass door open behind me, remembering all those school drills when we had to open windows to create a through draft. I’m not sure how I knew for certain it was a tornado. I just knew as I grabbed pillows off the couch and ran into the spare bedroom closet with my baby just as the tornado hit the house.
I’ve seen all the movies, and Twister was one that most accurately portrayed what it’s like to be in a building as a tornado ravages outside. But what they don’t portray is the whistling of the wind as it tears through the house and sweeps along every board. It does sound like a freight train, and I could hear the boards being ripped from the frame and the roar as pieces of the roof were being thrown asunder. There was creaking and Nat was screaming, not understanding why we were huddled in this small, hot closet with pillows over our head. It sounded like it lasted forever, but it was only moments. Then it was gone. And the stillness and quiet were once again there.
I crawled out of the closet, Nat clinging to my hip and thanked whatever it was that needed to be thanked for sparing us. A wall was missing in the room we were in, pieces of the roof were gone and rain was now pouring into the room. I stumbled out into the living room and there was a tree crashed through the front door. I chose to go out the back sliding glass door and stopped in shock as the pool we had just been playing in was gone. Vanished.
We were lucky. There was some structural damage and the concrete block garage looked as if someone had picked up the upper half and moved it over a foot. Every tree in the yard and there were several, were either gone or on the ground. One of them was propelled onto my car and it dented the hood to the seats and flattened all four tires. The tornado changed my perception of things in my life. It was the catalyst for ending my marriage. I left my highly stressful and demanding job and moved away to raise my daughter.
When I moved back to my hometown, I remembered the endless sirens of Spring. Every storm had the potential to spawn a tornadic cloud. But today, as I videotaped the gray low moving clouds that brought with them the potential for destruction, I shrugged off the danger. I had lived through a tornado. What’s the likelihood I will have to live through another one. Of course this rationale isn’t the most intelligent one, but it does help me sleep securely. At least until the sirens start blaring.
My daughter singing in the car – she has a beautiful voice
Standing outside in the pounding rain
My new Android phone – suck it Iphone.
Purple the color of fresh picked eggplants
Spotify – I’m obsessed with obscure music now
Dark chocolate 72% cacao squares – I eat one every night and enjoy every single bite
Walking down by the river front – catching a breeze off the water
Turning my face up to the sun and forgetting for one moment it causes wrinkles
Swedish films – go figure
That I’ve ordered a Ukelele – and I’m determined to learn to play
Big bouquets of basil – I’d rather have that than flowers
Merging onto the highway just as the sun is rising and it momentarily blinds me and I’m reminded of the wonder of it all
Ancient Aliens – I’m hooked on it and Giorgio’s hair
Eating a spoonful of peanut butter every night – it’s just good
Spinach in and on everything
Fuji apple pear water
Cinnamon in my tea
Good night spoons
Hats in the summer
I really like me
I had forgotten how balmy spring nights can be in the south. The hint of moisture in the air, the heavy hang of clouds, but still no rain falls. But it is there looming on the horizon. In the distance there is a rumble of thunder that will bring with it the torrents, not needed this spring. You can stand outside and smell the soil and the hint of far off places where the clouds have traveled from.
As a child I would stand in the grass, smelling of the sticky heat of the day, my legs painted with clear fingernail polish to ward off the chigger bugs that would leave behind red bite marks. There would be the scent of the honeysuckle, not yet bloomed and the mimosa tree blossoms not yet open and I would search the bushes and the trees for the first flicker of light. A lightning bug meant summer was imminent and the nights would be as hot as the midday.
But the spring meant the storms would be fierce, the wind would howl and there was always a threat of tornadoes. The air crackled with the electricity of danger and everywhere else seemed very far off. I would count the caterpillars nesting in the tree and then worry for them as the rain sluiced great waterfalls against every surface.
After a rain, late at night when the breeze still managed to cool, I would step out onto the wet grass, my toes sinking into the mud and stare at the stars. Later, in college, when I took astronomy during the winter months, I would wish I could have seen those same spring stars and understood more what I had seen as a child. But then, I was just in awe of the dots of glittering somethings.
Life was not simple or uncomplicated then. I was not unfazed by pain or disappointment, whether it was in something or in someone. I was just a girl, waiting for the storms to pass, waiting for the flowers to bloom, waiting for whatever lay ahead. Sometimes I would try to will a future in existence, but it looks nothing like what I saw as a child. I am not living anything that resembles the life I would wish upon the stars for.
Tonight when I stood outside and I complained I didn’t remember so many bugs when I was a child, I stopped for a moment. I listened to the steady sound of whatever insect it was in the trees that hummed like downed power lines. I looked at the stars, barely visible behind what were bright billowy clouds during the day, but were like discarded crumpled wads of paper now blocking the light. I smelled the rain that will fall later when I’m asleep.
I am an adult now. Not unfazed by pain or disappointment, whether it is in something or someone. I’m just a woman, waiting for the storms to pass, waiting for the flowers to bloom again, waiting for whatever lays ahead. Waiting in the balmy spring night.
Chick did not know ducks could be so sad. First, the gaggle of giggling geese had arrived one breezy afternoon and they had not left the pond where all the ducks would lazily float. Now the water splashed with goose gadabout and the honking pierced the quiet that use to be. The geese gorged on bugs and gobbled water as Chick stood on the bank of the pond helpless to the greed of those grouchy geese.
On top of everything it was raining. Had been for what ducks thought were days and the ground was cold and damp and Chick’s feathers were always wet. She shivered and she shook but nothing dried the down she was beginning to shed. Chick ducked into her new home, a battered and discarded mailbox the gopher had tired of carrying and left it at the pond.
There the rain tap tap tapped on the metal roof and in a better mood, she would have found it soothing. Instead, she moped and moaned, staring forlornly at the hill where Badger and Badger’s tree lived. Chick clucked and sighed, unable to express her sadness in any other way.
Badger had been in his hole again since the rain and the geese fell from the sky. There were days when he would be sitting on a root at the base of the tree and he was animated and talkative and Chick felt the rays of his attention and affection. Then he would be busy burrowing or chasing a squirrel from his hive of honey and he would barely grunt a hello. Chick would sit in the grass and wonder if Badger still thought of her as he did on the sunny days.
After she had moved into her mailbox home, she had asked him to venture down the hill and visit her. His mood darkened and he harrumphed his displeasure.
“I can’t leave my hole.” Was his latest excuse. “The way this works is you come visit me.”
“Friends have give and take. Even if it makes you scared, you should try to come see my new house. You should try to do things friends do.”
“Then find a friend who does those things.” Badger had grumbled more than any geese could.
Chick had huffed away, for what felt like the hundredth time, but the next morning she was back at the tree sharing honey and trying to figure out what she meant to Badger.
All of this kept her very occupied until the geese garnered her attention. Even in the rain that created puddles in the grass she had to float across, she made her way to Badger’s hole and descended into the dankness that was the world he lived in.
“You never knock.” Badger groused.
“Friends shouldn’t have to.” Chick fluffed her feathers at him and saw even in all his grouchy, he badger smiled. “The ducks have been gabbling and we are leaving the pond. The geese have made everyone miserable and grief stricken. The new pond is too far to walk here every morning.”
“Come with me.” Chick felt her throat all heart lumpy. “There’s a tree there, and probably bees and it’s even prettier than this one.”
“You keep talking about leaving. You’re always talking about other ponds and other meadows.” She could feel Badger’s anger. “I want to stay here. I don’t like change and I don’t like friends who try to change me.”
Suddenly the hole seemed so much smaller and Chick’s heart seemed so much more broken. “I thought we were best friends and always would be. That means we try to change together so we stay like this forever.”
“Badgers don’t change for anyone.”
Chick felt the last piece of her heart shatter and splinter. She wanted to stand there arguing with him as she had ever other time. She wanted to remind him of the mornings when they ate honey and everything felt so perfect and they were so happy. But standing there, seeing his cold badger eyes, she knew reminding him would not change anything. He had to want those mornings again, and he no longer did.
With all the cheerlessness of the entire world resting on her shoulders, Chick walked away from the friend she had loved more than she even loved herself. She waddled her way back to the duck pond where the mallards were haughtily discussing their impending move. Chick turned to the hill where Badger would live without seeing her every day. He didn’t care she was moving to another pond or even another world.
Chick toddled into her mailbox house and sat down on the flowers she had fashioned into a sweet smelling bed fit for even a swan. Over the gossiping geese, she listened to the rain trop trop tropping onto the roof and felt the rain leak from her eyes. Such a sad duck indeed.
I’m sloughing off winter
Cold to the bone
Ready for the sun to heat my skin again
Ready for the smell of soil
The sound of birds
The feel of warm rain plopping on my head
I’m ready to thaw
Even my heart
Bursting at the seams with what will be
Stretching my arms toward
The smile entirely your fault
Knowing even though the bitter is outside howling
It is spring between us
Not dampened by distance
or the boulders we must climb
Joy just because it is
Waiting for you
To stomp in the shallow puddles
With our wellies
and laugh at it all