Saturday, February 20, 2016
Big Bad Wolf
Last night (Friday) the Big Bad Wolf visited our place. He woke me, after midnight, huffing and puffing and blowing our house down. (He failed.) Very high winds here in Hudson, and I could hear things flying around in the yard, out in the street, and all I could do was hope that none of the stuff (pieces of the house?) belonged to us. Or that--once again--a high wind would not flatten a section of our cedar border fence, an event that always occasions a visit from our wryly smiling lawn-and-garden guy, who patiently rebuilds our little Troy here.
I did not have a lot of childhood fears. My older brother did convince me that there was a Man in the Closet who had homicidal intents--not on my brother, of course, but on me. And, naturally, I feared Big Kids on the playground (for good reason!). And, I suppose, homework--not that we had much of it back in elementary school in the 1950s. Schools seemed to have reserved that for secondary school, where (I'll confess) I took a few years (that's right--years) to get around to doing it regularly.
But I was truly afraid of one thing: high winds. You see, I grew up in the Southwest. Ten of my first twelve years were in Oklahoma, two in the Texas panhandle, and high winds could change into something a little more dramatic--and quickly.
Like dust storms. Yes, the days of drought and The Grapes of Wrath were over, but every now and then the sky in the west would boil red (the Okla- part of the name means red), and here would come a fierce, gritty wind that blew rough particles of red soil everywhere. I remember this: One day the teachers saw a storm a-bubbling in the west and sent us home early (everyone walked: neighborhood schools in Enid). And when we came back the next day, grit lay all over the inside of Adams School: desktops, floors, etc. The storms could be punishing and dangerous, but I confess some ambivalence: How bad can something be if it cancels school?
(BTW: Back in my home town, Enid, Oklahoma, about a decade ago, doing some family research, reading through old issues of the Enid Morning News and the Enid Daily Eagle, I was surprised to see, once again, the word drouth, a word we always spell drought nowadays. I'd forgotten ....)
So ... I was ambivalent about dust storms. But not about tornadoes, a worrisome threat each spring. One never actually came twisting down our street--or through our neighborhood--but the newspapers were always full of warnings and stories. And I saw some fearsome skies--actually green clouds--massive thunderheads--that seemed certainly the parents of twisters. I do have one memory of having to go downstairs late one night--but nothing hit.
In school we had no tornado drills. Our drills were restricted to fire--and atomic bombs. (Dive under your desk, arms over your heads--the pose you would have when the atomic fire melted you, I guess.) The picture below shows exactly what we did for A-bomb protection.
Anyway, I have some (a lot of!) residual fear of high winds. So last night, I lay in bed, my heart rate accelerating, and tried to pretend nothing would happen--that Nature would not single us out--that the Man in the Closet would stay in the closet (for safety)--that the Big Bad Wolf might huff, maybe even puff, but he would not--no, not!--blow our house down.