Under something dirty

April 17, 2011

You and I had one of our greatest adventures in the aftermath of a terribly scary day. You were three years old and at daycare when tornadoes tore through our area with vengeance, ripping countless huge oaks and pine trees from the ground and tossing them around like sticks. I was at my office watching the storm, but saw only a trash receptacle lid fly across the road. I was unaware of the drama occurring north of me. October 24, 2001 according to noaa.gov:

Ten tornadoes spun across the Northern Indiana National Weather Service office’s area of responsibility (or, “County Warning Area”, abbreviated “CWA”), ranging in strength from F0 to F3 on the Fujita Scale. This is the largest outbreak since April 3, 1974, when we encountered 16 tornadoes. The Palm Sunday Outbreak on April 11, 1965 gave us 10 tornadoes.

Palm Sunday TornadoesElkhart, Indiana – double tornado on Palm Sunday, 1965

As I drove north to check on the house I learned that many of the streets had become impassable with trees lying across them. I continued turning on alternate roads, working my way north, until I was finally able to drive down our street. We were lucky. We lost an outbuilding and a couple of massive oaks were uprooted and lying in the yard, the power was out and there was no telling how long that would last, but the house was fine.

I walked around the house and spotted your mom, Laura, pulling into the drive. She was very upset and told me that she was unable to get to you at daycare. She wanted to hold you and see that you were okay (as Grandma Beanie always needs to do, your mom needed to look at you). As the roads were likely to remain impassable for a while, she and I headed back to my office building, where we had not lost power.

Laura was able to contact your daycare provider and was relieved to hear that everyone was fine, but without power. The daycare provider told your mom that all of the children had been in the basement before the tornadoes hit and were frightened after the power went out. They wanted to go upstairs but the daycare provider was a little worried about moving the children in the dark. Until you began to jump around. Your shoes had lights in the soles that lit up when you jumped. The other kids saw your shoes shining in the darkness and the general mood was considerably lightened. The daycare provider said, “Keep jumping!” and you all went upstairs, with the others following the light of your shoes.

Two days later you were scheduled to spend the weekend at my house but the power was still out, so you and I went to my office building. I told you we were refugees from the storm and we were going to have a great time. We played games, watched movies and ate cold chicken dipped in sweet chipotle sauce while sitting on my office floor, using an upside down cooler as our table. We went to our favorite restaurant for breakfast each morning. During our last morning at the restaurant that weekend, you told the waitress and me how much you loved to be a refugee (pronounced something like weffagee), and hoped all of the other people in the restaurant were having fun being weffagees, too.

Tornado warnings always put us on edge regardless of how many tornadoes we have seen or have affected us. I remember the tornadoes of 1974 and the reactions of adults with regard to the Palm Sunday tornadoes of 1965 mentioned above in the quote from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). The phone lines were down for days after the Palm Sunday tornadoes and relatives from Minnesota and Kentucky were frantic, trying to get in touch with our family. We were all fine and had not even seen any tornadoes.

The only tornado I have seen in person occurred when I was newly married and living in the country, south of town. I watched a tornado kicking up a mess of dirt and plant litter in nearby fields, and then saw the most amazing thing. The winds snatched the roof from a silo across the highway from our house and raised it high into the air. The silo roof spun around and then began to descend into the center of the highway where it almost landed, but not quite. The winds picked it up again and it soared over our house, finally landing in a bean field beyond our back yard. We lost a few fruit trees from the winds of that storm and the cinder block garage cracked and part of it moved (permanently) an inch or so.

The funniest memories can sometimes come from times of stress, such as during tornado warnings, and often involve something that came from the mouth of a child.

Kimberly was listening intently to a tornado warning on a weather radio when she was 9 years old, getting ready to help move Heather, Joe and Jenny to the basement if it was necessary. As we were collecting books, toys and favorite blankets and putting them near the cellar trap door she overhead a radio report that said to “get down and under something sturdy.” Confused, she asked, “Why do we need to get under something dirty?”

I explained to her that she had not heard the announcer correctly; he had said to get under something sturdy, not dirty.

None of us has ever been injured in a tornado and I hope that in the future, if any of us encounters a tornado we will be as safe as we can possibly be by remembering, perhaps with a tiny chuckle, to get under something dirty.


  1. This is a great post. Thank you for sharing.

    P.S. I think you should submit it.

    • Thanks! P.S. Submit a story?

      • Yep. I’m going to edit a piece for submission this week.

  2. I think this is a terrific piece – and I agree with the suggestion of submitting it somewhere.

    There is so much rolled into it, so many emotions. Don’t leave it tucked away. Tt is too good for that.

    • Thank you Jo! You two are giving me great nudges to submit something. I hadn’t considered submitting the family stories before because I thought they were just… family stories and there wouldn’t be much interest.

      After reading these comments I went rooting around the web a bit and found that much of my writing could fit into a genre called Creative Non-fiction. It’s a relatively new and sometimes controversial genre, which fits me to a tee!

      I am working on submitting my first piece now, from the combination of two posts: https://optymyst.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/i-had-a-toad, and https://optymyst.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/wreck-of-the-cherry-tree.

      After that I will take the advice you two have so graciously given me and prepare this piece for submission. I need to find a place that will accept short articles.

      Thank you!

      • Yay! That’s fantastic!

      • So glad to hear it – I put up a few links on one of your post you may want to check out !!!

        • Hey gals, I am finding that many publishers and contests consider a piece already published when it has been placed anywhere on the web, including a blog. Have you read anything about that?

          • It’s true. It’s lame, but it’s true. It’s why I never post my fiction on my blog, except for the 700 word pieces I write for The Red Dress Club prompts and those will likely be altered so significantly they won’t resemble what I posted at all.

            • I will simply need to dig something else out of my head, then. I will also look for any who will accept something that appeared on an insignificant blog and let you know of any I find. :)

  3. It is stupid but true – you will have to rewrite a bit. The main this is to make sure that the title is altered, and that you move things around a bit. Also a good idea to take the piece off your website so there can be no comparison. Sorry – it is my devious Australian brain at work here. just make sure that no 7 words in a row are exactly the same – use synonyms etc.

    • I agree with Jo. It’s annoying, but must be done. It’s why I have avoided ever really talking about the contents of my novel on my blog. It’s too important to me to blow the chance of getting published because I said too much. Writing short stories is the easy part.

  4. There are a few around who do not consider a personal blog to be published. You just have to check – another good website for looking for someone to publish is Myslexia.

  5. Great! Thanks so much to both of you for all of this info. My head is spinning a bit right now with a b’zillion tabs open in my browser looking at a huge variety of publications. It’s a start!

    I am living and learning, Bri. Gotta learn to shut my big yap and keyboard. :)

    • That’s all you can do. Getting published is all about the fine art of patience.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: