Monday, May 10, 2010

Fear and Atmosphere

My brother used to have a funny illustration he offered when somebody jokingly threatened him with bodily harm, as guys often do. He would boldly declare, “There’s nothing between us but fear and atmosphere!” Then he would make a grand and animated sucking gesture, as if to draw in all the air between him and his antagonist. What followed next was the joke’s grand finale’ - “Now there’s just fear!” Sometimes I will double up my fist and threaten him with a big ole' pop-knot just to see him do his grand sucking gesture.

When you visit a far away state and people hear you are from Oklahoma, they always say the same thing, “How can you live there with all those tornadoes?”

But as spring approaches, the phrase “Fear and Atmosphere” is something with which Oklahomans are all too familiar. Right down the middle of America is a pathway known as Tornado Alley. It starts in Texas and runs up though the entire Midwest, spreading wider as it goes. And with Oklahoma at ground zero, we have more tornadoes per whatever measure you chose to use, than all the rest.

Usually the season starts in early spring and doesn’t taper off until the heat of summer arrives. But, with very little activity so far, this year appeared as if it might be an exception to the fearful times brought on by tornado season. But alas, this evening ended that pipe dream. We were forewarned that this would be an “active” day, and active it was. I left work a bit early and hurried home, listening to the radio as a guy described a tornado headed right toward me. Just as I pulled into my driveway that tornado touched down at an intersection I had passed just a few minutes before – another bullet dodged.

And then, from the safety of my home I watched on television as tornadoes, one after another, destroyed homes and businesses as they tore through the middle of our fair state. The casualty count is just starting to be reported, and it appears that, while some have died the loss of life and limb may be relatively light considering the awesomeness of the storms. For that we thank God, and offer prayers for those that were not so fortunate.

When you visit a far away state and people hear you are from Oklahoma, they always say the same thing, “How can you live there with all those tornadoes?” I considered moving to Florida or the eastern seaboard, but I can’t imagine having to dodge those hurricanes. California seems like a great place to live until you get caught in a mudslide… or worse, an earthquake. It seems safe up north, but I’m way too claustrophobic to live under several feet of snow. I could move to Chicago, but I drove through Chicago once. No thank You!

So I’ll just stay right here in Oklahoma where I’ve learned to trust in the good Lord and the local weather men. Oh, it takes courage, as they are now reporting that the next couple of days could be a repeat of what we saw today. But we Okies are a courageous lot.

But courage can be a fleeting thing. Sometimes you have to practice it. I don’t know how other Okies practice their courage, but I like to double up my fist and threaten my brother with a big ole’ pop-knot!

1 comment:

  1. Reece,
    I remember your brother as always being the cool smooth operator driving that old green malibu. The story fits him well. Have you figured out who this is yet? Check 2 of your other stories.