It was in the high nineties yesterday. I helped my mom run some errands and then we had lunch and I brought her home. The path down to her place made me feel like I was walking through a rainforest with the sounds of various bird calls, insects, and the weak sun filtering through the tree canopy on such a hazy, humid day. I imagined that life was this way before we humans arrived, and would continue long after we leave (provided the Earth hasn’t been sucked into the sun by then – or whatever event precedes Earth’s demise).
I knew a storm was forecast for later in the day, and as I drove home, I could feel it coming on. My gas warning light came on a few miles before I was near a gas station, but I was fairly confident I would make it as long as I didn’t have to idle anywhere. I vaguely wondered if it would use more gas to turn off and on my engine if I did get stuck in traffic, but I wasn’t hindered by anything.
As I pulled into the gas station, however, the ominous clouds I had seen forming on the far horizon were now headed over the gas station canopy, while another cloud bank was converging into the one over me. There was eerie greenish light in the storm clouds and a fierce wind picked up while torrential rain poured down. I don’t know why I didn’t just stay there and wait out the storm. I think I was worried about the gas station not being a safe place to be, so I pulled out, barely able to see through the rain pounding my windshield, even with the wipers on fast. Traffic was stopped at a tree that had fallen across the road, so I made a U-turn to take another street. I watched the tree limbs above me bending and swaying and while I was prepared to stop quickly, I had already decided to keep moving unless forced to stop.
I took the least tree-lined route, instead of my usual one, and at first I thought I had gone the best way; the rain had lessened in intensity, but the storm continued with lightning flashing and the wind still whipping as I turned up another side street hoping to avoid traffic or any accidents. There was a tree in the road ahead of me, and a pick-up truck drove over to my side of the road, narrowly missing me as the driver careened around the tree and then corrected to get past my car. I rounded the corner to see another tree down, but it had fallen at an angle with a gap large enough for my car to pass under it – which was really dumb of me, I know – but I was in amygdala/panic mode, not neo-cortex/processing mode. I got through that to see another tree up ahead and someone ahead of me getting out of their car to check it out. I put my window down and yelled at her not to touch anything if there was a wire down. She ran back a moment later saying that there was a wire in the road.
My car has four-wheel drive and I told her I could avoid most of the tree top by driving up the hill around it, and she told me she was going to follow me. I knew it would be easy to navigate that, and I waited to make sure the other driver got around it before continuing on. I called the police to let them know that three trees and a wire were down on that road. There were lots of tree limbs and other debris scattered about the road, but no more whole trees. The storm was passing and I had turned on my radio after leaving the gas station in case there were any emergency broadcasts, but there was only regular programming. I thought that was weird because it was such an intense storm, but I guess I was unlucky enough to be at the head of it.
The shape of the storm front reminded me of some kind of alien craft. The entire edge was rounded while lower clouds were being kneaded into the larger mass, and it was very fast-moving. I feel stupid now that my last act could have been putting gas into my car and trying to dodge being tornado fodder. The best thing I could have done was to go inside the store and wait out the storm, or at least park beside the nearby open field. I’m not sure getting into a ditch would have been a good idea unless I actually saw a funnel cloud because the rain was pouring so hard the ditches were flash-flooding. Death by drowning might have been preferable to being sucked up into a tornado, but that’s a tough call. Thankfully, I didn’t need to choose.
© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.