The Tornado vs. The Screen Door

Fine art image of lawn chairs next to a swimming pool, taken in Austin, Texas on South Congress Avenue

Before I get into my usual rant about good old fashioned Texas weather, I should preface this post by telling family and friends in points afar that we here in Central Texas are all OK. The recent storms have not done any damage to our little hideaway although the greater Austin area is feeling the impact of the recent floods (and continues to do so-we are anticipating more storms, and floodwater, tonight, unfortunately.) We are tucked away nice and dry at least for now. Thanks for all of the well wishes, as we are all fine and dandy.

Saturday night, however, was a different story. You see, I’ve recently had the flu, so I’ve been a bit stuck in bed, feeling under the weather and all. These recent storms did not help matters much either. Allow me to explain.

My house, for those who have not been there, has a back porch. Between my living room and my back porch, I’ve installed a screen door. As luck would have it, my couch faces the back of the house and, since the porch is elevated, I’ve discovered that, should you happen to open the back door, with the screen door in place, you get this wonderful cool breeze. Mmmm. Cool breeze. Did I mention it’s the most wonderful of wonderful cool breezes? OK, so back to my cool breeze.

I’ve also developed this bad habit lately of not only opening the back door (cool breeze! You with me here?) but of falling asleep on the couch. Don’t get me wrong, I set out all well and good. “Not tonight!” I proclaim to myself, “tonight, I’m not going to fall asleep on the couch!” But then I go ahead and open the back door (cool breeze alert!) and kick the old shoes off, put the feet up, Chase gets comfortable, and, BAM! before you know it, I’m dozing off. Dreamland for me. Ahh. Zzzzz. (Hey, at least I’ve got a cool breeze where I sleep. Don’t judge!)

So Saturday night, there I was awake and totally alert, ahem, I mean, dozing off on the couch, screen door open, cool breeze maximus blowing in, slumbering away into dreamland. All was well in the world except for one little detail. There were several tornadoes in Cedar Park, Texas this Saturday night. Tornadoes, it would appear, are a bit stronger than my usual cool breeze and I almost found this out the hard way. Picture it. I’m fast asleep on the couch. Screen door open. Chase by my side, secretly hoping a rabid squirrel attempts to run up the back porch right through the screen door, when I was rudely awakened by a sound that somewhat resembled an oncoming freight train.

Now, being in Texas, I’ve been told that tornadoes sound a lot like oncoming freight trains. In fact, almost every TV broadcast of almost every tornado in Texas starts out with some newscaster standing in some long forgotten field interviewing some farmer or rancher who picks a thread of grass out of his mouth long, looks straight into the camera, and proclaims, “It sounded just like an oncoming freight train!” I’ve heard this interview many times before and I know how this story ends.

So, there I was. Freight train, aka, friendly neighborhood tornado twisting my way, me sound asleep on the couch in dreamland. It was…a bit odd that, really. As I rubbed my eyes and looked around, all I could think of was, “if I didn’t know any better, I’d swear that was a tornado.” Of course, my kind and friendly weatherman didn’t call for any tornadoes that night so I was pretty sure it wasn’t a tornado but then, this is Texas after all, and the damn things do tend to sprout up at the most inopportune of times. Not like there’s really a good time for a tornado, mind you, but there you have it.

That’s when my phone went off.

We have these Amber Alert type messages on our cell phones now that beep rather loudly when approaching weather events and the like happen. Saturday night was no exception. Over the course of about three minutes, I got about six weather alerts, all very loud and increasing in severity, all waking me from what was left of my sleep as the freight train/tornado rumbled into earshot. The first one said something about flash flooding, the second one said something even more severe about flooding, the third one suggested something about a tornado, and the last one said something along the lines of “a tornado has been spotted in your area. Seek shelter immediately!” Ok, so maybe it wasn’t a freight train after all, but there I was expecting a cool breeze and winding up with, well, let’s just call it a bit more than I had bargained for and leave it at that, Ok? Even the freaking iPhone Amber Alert thing rose up from the dead and yapped at me, “Wake the Hell up, it’s a tornado!” I would have been in a panic only I was too groggy and hadn’t quite woken up yet, with the silly iPhone Amber Alert sound ringing in my ears and the rumbling freight train growing louder and louder by the second.

They say just before you die you’re supposed to see your life flash before you eyes, at least we’ve all heard that story many times before from the movies and such. I suppose there are people out there, maybe even some poor lost souls on Saturday night who didn’t see the storms coming and got washed away, twisted away, or just didn’t survive the weather. Texas is a formidable climate, it’s not for all, I’d be the first to admit that, and I hesitate to insist that I’m stronger than the next, not by any stretch. But, dag nabit! I’ll be damned if I’m going to let some stupid silly tornado take my cool breeze away. Damn you, tornado! Damn you and the horse you rode in on! My screen door may not be much, heck the good folks over at Home Depot probably even installed it slightly crooked, but it’s all I have and I’m not giving it up. No, not me. Though I did (eventually) get up and shut the door on Saturday night, I’m going to use the screen door again and I’ll probably fall asleep on the couch again and, heck if a tornado comes to take me away so be it. I refuse to give up my cool breeze, sorry tornado, you’ll just have to go twist in the wind (or some such thing.)

Yes, after Saturday night, I suppose it’s safe to say, “Stand back! I’ve got a screen door and I’m not afraid to use it!”

Until next time…

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