Friday, February 29, 2008

Stormy Weather [CCR]

This week I found myself caught in the middle of an ice storm in Indiana. One would think I had enough memory of the cold without having to revisit it so soon after relocating to Tennessee, but work beckoned and I answered the call. My coworker and I sat in the hotel lobby looking outside at the winter wonderland and I regained an appreciation for home. As I write I am overjoyed that we are about to begin our journey home.

Storms have always fascinated me. Not that I particularly appreciate the more difficult ones, but we must remember most storms deliver our much needed water. As a child I always remember looking to the west when watching storms approach. I am not sure I understood the prevailing winds at the time, but when the weatherman called for stormy weather I looked towards Granddaddy’s old barn and watched the sky.

As I have moved around the country I quickly obtained my bearings in my new locations and I always seemed to memorize directions by relating to home. North was always related to the direction of the fertilizer plant and the sound of the steam whistle at shift change. East brought the picturesque view of Mr. Harris’s pasture and the engine sounds of the various barge tugs pushing their goods up the Tennessee River. South brought the sounds of the mainline Southern railroad. West was the direction from which the clouds usually approached. Southwest always seemed to indicate the more severe of the storms. My method usually kept me straight on directions no matter where I moved. If I found one direction I could simply use my mental images of childhood to help orientate myself.

Whenever we heard of bad weather in Tupelo we knew it was time to batten down the hatches. Storms always found their way from Tupelo to Cherokee. Over the years those fancy weather folks on the television and radio always seemed to find ways to claim they were a little better than the rest on keeping you informed. Well, if you lived in Cherokee all you really had to do was listen for the news from Tupelo. It was much more reliable.

The rule of checking Tupelo didn’t always apply for snow or ice. Those sorts of storms seemed to be a random event that occurred when nobody predicted. Ice was much worse than snow and seemed to occur more often. My job was to keep wood piled in the box between the fireplace and the heater. After the cold blustery wind battered my face I would stand over the wood stove to thaw my hands and face. I made sure I brought enough wood to keep these trips to a minimum. At least, in the South, most of these problems didn’t last long.

This morning we slowly made our way down a small two lane road that winds along the Ohio River. The water lay choppy in the cold wind and didn’t really look to head in any direction. Trees displayed their new shiny coats of ice and the roads were covered with a salty slush. Folks here may be prepared for winter’s onslaught, but the mere view of all this winter weather makes me long for home. Many miles south along the endless asphalt we will find our warmer weather and my family waiting to welcome me back home.