Posted by: morrowsl | January 12, 2020

Give It A Day, Part One

Twenty-four hours ago, I was rushing around the house in absolute panic, having had two warnings, back-to-back, to take cover from an approaching tornado.

My hero of meteorology, The Delkus, had warned us all that the weather would go to hell in a handcart around noon. As usual, he was spot on. Eleven o’clock brought a downpour, followed by bright sunshine, followed by unrelenting rain. We lost power at least three times in as many hours, which made maintaining my watch on local radar impossible. Luckily, my sister-in-law and Captain Neighbor Boy were having much better luck. Both sent warnings about the tornado allowing us about a ten minute heads up. Mike called me from the shop to let me know what CNB had said. I shared with him what Linda’s text said. We agreed we should probably take shelter, but he wanted me to look at the radar for our area first. I started the website loading as I began gathering stuff.

Thankfully, I’d already done a bit of prep work after hearing the forecast from Delkus the previous evening. I’d brought the cat carrier downstairs and packed towels and snacks in a bag. I’d swept the cobwebs and sand out of our in-ground shelter, checked the batteries in the lights (all dead), had Mike bring down replacement batteries along with a five-gallon bucket, toilet paper, and paper towels. We’ve had a case of bottled water and two chairs down there since the shelter was built.

Prior to yesterday, I’d been in the shelter only a couple of times. The idea of it creeps me. But the idea of living in a tornado-prone county without a shelter creeps me even more. A few days after the installation was completed, I told Mike I wanted to get in the shelter and close the door so I would know what that felt like before I needed to. I could see myself making it to the first step and freezing in absolute terror. Not a good idea if someone is behind you, moving with intent. The four steps are steep and the head-knocker is about four inches of solid concrete. A definite recipe for an accident.

At one point, my sister and I discussed painting the interior to look like clouds above and a beautiful garden below. I toyed with underwater scenery, but then it would feel like drowning.

Back to the tornado.

The weather reports gave an ETA of 3:39pm for Decatur. We’re about ten minutes northeast, but I had no way of knowing what the exact track of the storm looked like. I pulled on my rain jacket and cinched the hood around my face. Frio, our older Tuxedo cat, was lounging nearby. I snagged him and, with minimal objection from him, stuffed him in the carrier. Tippy, the younger Tuxedo, did what Tippy does best and vanished like smoke. No amount of calling or coaxing was going to bring him out of hiding. Distraught but determined, I took the carrier and bag out to the back steps. I called Mike on the way. No answer. He’d just called me, so I knew he had his phone and a signal. I ran back inside for Tippy, who I was hoping had come out to see where Frio had gone.

He had not.

I took off for the shop.

Here I need to add that, had this storm happened on Monday instead of Friday, I’d have dragged both cats into the mudroom bathroom and made the best of a plan gone south. For the last week, I’ve been babying a badly strained back and the idea of carrying anything heavier than a heating pad was pretty much the stuff of nightmares. But, I’d had four days to rest and was riding on a shot of adrenaline no six dollar cup of coffee can match.

Mike was sitting at his desk. I think I shouted “GO” or something equally frantic and slammed the door. I took the carrier and bag to the shelter and went back to look for Tippy one last time.

By now, it was about zero minus a minute or two and still pissing down rain.

Mike met me inside. I was in full-tilt meltdown over Tippy. He went to the pantry and I was thinking, “you’re going to eat?” when he came back out with kitty treats.

Brilliant!

He shook the bag and Tippy appeared as if by magic. It took both of us to actually grab him and I stupidly made an attempt to just walk out the door with him. A toenail to the midsection killed that idea.

I remembered some wise soul once told me they stuffed their frightened cat in a pillow case to take it to the vet. I yelled at Mike to strip a pillow and we stuffed Tippy inside.

Once in the shelter, we put Tippy in the carrier and took off our wet jackets. My feet were soaked to the skin and freezing. I pulled one of the towels out and wrapped up in it. I was able to get enough cell signal to send a text to our family and neighbors that we were in our shelter with the cats.

Outside, it just sounded like rain.

And then voices.

I pushed open the shelter door. Captain Neighbor Boy and Oldest Little Blond Girl were sloshing across the driveway. She had two fists full of toys. He had their newest family member, a handsome Silver Labrador pup named Burton.

I was a bit shocked to find it was only about zero minus ten minutes. CNB had no idea if we were actually in the tornado’s path, or even if there was still a tornado to be worried about. But Oldest Little Blond Girl had been concerned. And Youngest Little Blond Girl was being held at school until all danger had passed.
So we huddled together in the chilly cement box with water dripping and the sound of rain pelting on the vents until we were bored and certain all danger had passed.

Much later, Mike and I made our way outside again to check on the chickens and get the heat going in the greenhouse. Delkus was promising snow, or a wintry mix at the very least, and we wanted the assurance that we’d done what we could to avoid surprises.
The run of the new brooder coop was fully underwater. The little chickens were up on their roosts, looking a bit wet and confused. Their food was soaked as was all the straw in the run. But the straw on the coop floor was dry and I knew they’d cuddle up and keep each other warm. I told them it was going to get really cold. Then closed the door.

Likewise, the entry to the big run was full of water. The first few steps inside were super slippery but the covered area is between the door to the run and the entry to the coop, so I didn’t fall. The older girls were tucked up for the night as I knew they would be. One had left an egg, so I collected it and bid them goodnight. Again, I explained that cold weather was forecast.

We moved on to the greenhouse and lit the propane heaters. It was still in the sixties out, but the temps were likely to drop fast with the setting sun. Then we slogged our way back to the house to dry off and warm up.

In all, we measured over six inches of rain. I don’t know exactly how much time passed but, if I had to guess, I’d say that rainfall lasted about six or seven hours. Possibly longer. Once I came in and took off my soaking clothes, I just didn’t care to see rain again. On my way to bed I checked the temperature. It was forty-one degrees. Down twenty degrees.

IMG_0253

Tippy (front) and Frio, no worse for wear, stalking birds flying in for seeds on the porch.

 


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