shelter from the wind

"Guys, I can see a tornado outside," Dylan informed us from her perch at the bathroom window. Her matter-of-fact manner barely registered. She was upstairs, after all, and hadn't we just reiterated the rule about not talking across rooms, floors, and yards--("Make sure you can see their eyes")?

We were a little distracted. We'd just sent the kids upstairs to speak grown-up things in peace when the outdoor furniture that Jim assembled that morning blew off the porch. Hearing a thud, I wondered what else might have flung itself into oblivion--or likely, our car, where previous chairs met their demise.

Ours is not a tornado town, but the valley draws more than its share of strange storms: thick April snow devastated newly-green boughs, and hail like baseballs kept roofers in town for months. Sudden sheets of rain and whipping winds are as common as fireflies and fishermen, but huddling in storm cellars was beyond my experience.

I ran upstairs to shut the windows when Jim's cell rang.

"" It cut out.

"Into the basement everyone!"

Our four-year-old knew what she saw, all right.

image via tom wells on twitter; we did not take photos!

Our house is directly behind the barn on the right, and Dylan glimpsed the funnel cloud from a point much closer.

"It was full of leaves and feathers. Goose feathers and branches."

Sweet mercy.

We gathered on the dank basement stairs by the light of Jim's phone. The wind whipped, and nothing shook but our confidence.

We emerged at the hillside neighbor's All Clear, only to retreat again at the sight of still-ominous clouds. This time we were shored up by shoes, crackers, and flashlights for shadow puppets on the cracked and cobwebbed wall.

"I'm not scared," insisted James, not even of spiders.

"I'm scared," confessed Dylan, and I pulled her close to my heart. "I'm scared and I'm brave."

And we were.

We are safe, and so is everyone and everything at camp. (There are no kids here and only some of our staff.) Some of the nearest houses did sustain damage, but we still don't know much. We're so grateful that Jim was home, and I can't begin to tell you how rare that is during these long training weeks. Thankful, thankful, thankful. Now for a June with a little less excitement!

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