Palms to the Glass
A flash of lightning catches my eye. As I look up from my book, I realize the room has grown dark in the middle of the day. Dark enough that I have to turn the lights on.
I open the deck door and step outside. Warm, wet air wraps around me, takes my breath away. I glance up to the sky to see which direction the storm is coming from. Dark clouds are gathering to the west, moving quickly towards me.
Back in the house, I turn on my computer and check email. Sure enough, there’s a pile of emergency weather notices. Severe Thunderstorm Warning. Flash Flood Warning. Tornado Warning.
The room grows darker and lightning flashes come faster and closer together. Dave comes upstairs and I tell him we’ve got a tornado warning. We start gathering candles, setting them in the various rooms and lighting them. We make sure my flashlight is where it’s supposed to be. If we lose power at night, I can’t see to lipread. There’s a flashlight that we always keep in the same place, so I know where to go to find it in the dark.
We have thunderstorms throughout the afternoon and into the evening. Tornado warnings are flashing constantly across the TV. Our power flickers on and off numerous times, at one point staying off for about 5 minutes. Luckily it returns and then stays on. At this point my computer is off; we are watching TV and trying to decide if we should go downstairs or not. We decide to stay upstairs for the time being.
Thinking out loud, I mention that if I were alone in the house, at night, and the power goes off, I would have no way of knowing how bad the storm was or that there was a tornado warning. The village siren is going off but of course I don’t hear it. If we have no power, I won’t get the warnings via email or the TV. I can’t even look outside to really know how bad things are because it’s dark and hard to see – dark storm clouds just look like nighttime sky. I can’t hear that telltale train sound that an imminent tornado is supposed to sound like, or even hear the wind picking up in speed and force. I think I’m going to sign up for alerts to my cell phone. Then I can turn it on and keep it with me during storms, just in case.
Whenever there’s thunder, Dave will mimic it for me to let me know. I can’t tell unless it’s the earth-shattering kind that makes the floors and walls shake. Then he gets an idea. He opens the front door, and I assume he’s doing it so we can watch the storm together. Instead, he takes my hand and lays my palm flat against the glass of the screen door. I’m shocked into silence. The glass is vibrating, alive underneath my hand. I can feel every nuance of thunder, feel that it’s coming bam bam bam, one thunderclap after another. Dave lays his hand next to me, smiles, nods. Then we both stand there for about 10 minutes, palms to the glass, eyes to the heavens, feeling the storm course through our bodies.