I had another topic to write, but the Japan earthquake trumps all. Lately, I’m thinking about so many things in my life that might be good for a ‘slice’ of writing that the topics whirling through are those I don’t ordinarily focus on, life’s experiences that touch on events today much of the time. Hence, the news of this earthquake in Japan carried me back to an early memory of a tornado tragically striking my neighborhood, but not my house.
I grew up in a place where springtime, while often beautiful, often meant tornadoes. Also, I am old enough to remember that in my early years, there were no tornado sirens, even special TV news alerts. We watched the sky, knowing when it turned a strange greenish color and the clouds seemed to be boiling, we’d better head for the basement. At the end of one of my middle school years, I think the last week, a terrible tornado ground its way through our city. My family was one of the few in the neighborhood that had a basement. There were twelve people crowded into that southwest corner (tornadoes moved northeast), and I can still hear my father calling out, “oh, my god, here it comes”. A neighbor joined us with her children and was crying. My aunt, who lived across the street, but also had no basement, had her eyes squeezed shut so tightly. Her children, my cousins, and my brother, seemed unaffected. So was I. It seemed silly even to crowd us into such a small space. It never occurred to me that anything bad would actually happen, so typical of the untouched adolescent.
There was a large wood behind our house, about a couple of blocks away, which had a deep ravine leading down to a creek. We kids played there often. As my father shouted, ‘here it comes’ I peeked out the window, and saw the funnel, big, dark and making the noise just as people say they do, like a freight train. The funnel hit the dip of the ravine, and headed south, missing us and the block behind our house. It moved on, tearing up other people’s houses, and a little later, my school.
I am in sympathy with those at this awful time in Japan. My heart goes out to them in their loss and terrible circumstances today.