Here’s the deal. You hear over the radio or TV the promise of bad weather late in the day, midnight at the latest. As the day goes by, you scan the western sky for signs, such as rag-tag clouds, or a cloud-wall patterned like a washboard, anything out of the ordinary. Thankful for advances in meteorology and the abstract artistry of onscreen radar, you, nevertheless, are old-fashioned enough to trust your eyes, and even more, your gut. You are on the alert for that certain quickening in the atmosphere, both without and within, that says routine may suffer interruption in the hours to come.
It is now dark.
An extended weather bulletin interrupts the TV show you had planned to watch. What you do see onscreen might as well be a bizarre display in an art museum, during which the spokesman throws out such attention getters as “wind sheer” and “straight line wind damage,” but it’s when he zeros in on a certain “bowing” on screen storm map as indicator of possible tornado, that the ears perk up. You begin to think of ways to get the parrot in a carrying cage should trip to the basement prove necessary. Meanwhile, the dog presses closer than ever while studying your eyes for a sign. The situation isn’t helped when the wind’s low and steady moan increases to a growl.
The phone rings, causing the dog to bark so loud, for several seconds you fear hearing in one ear may never return. A loved one hundreds of miles away has just seen on TV that much of southern Illinois is under a tornado warning. You assure her that, so far at least, the weather is tolerable if a bit rowdy, ending the brief conversation with what may be the least original line of all time: “Besides, my love, whatever will be will be.”
What you don’t say is that people attuned to prayer will pray, while those who choose to go it alone will wait and see what happens.
What you don’t say is that church-goers, casino-enthusiasts , drinkers and teetotalers, those who chow down on protein straight from the hoof, as well as devout vegetarians who wouldn’t dream of breaking an egg—all of us know the moment is at hand when we have no choice but to play the odds.
Morning light shows damage to this place to be less than minimal.
The three of us lucked out.
The year is young.
Welcome to life in southern Illinois.
How it is