Monday, March 13, 2006

The Severe Weather Welcoming Wagon

I knew the welcome would come, but it was still a heart pounding surprise nonetheless. After moving back to Kansas three months ago (after an absence of about 13 years), I was awaiting with some trepidation the greeting I would receive from the midwest's/great plain's spring/summer severe weather season.

Well, yesterday it came a little early and for some reason decided against bringing flowers as a welcoming gesture. Heck, there wasn't even a welcome wagon - more like a freight train that tore through Lawrence, rumbling and shaking my own house for 30 seconds or so. And it was gone before I got myself to the house's central bathroom. So I count my blessings, both in terms of the minimal damage my rental house received and the fact that no one in Lawrence was seriously hurt (but the damage is extensive). Tragically, though, others in Missouri were not so fortunate.

Now the official word is that tornados weren't actually part of the welcoming committee (at least here in Lawrence) - just extremely strong straight winds and microbursts. But there were many unofficial accounts of people spotting a tornado or two. Whatever the case, mother nature officially welcomed me back to the state. And the adrenaline rush overlying a tinge of fear brought back memories of growing up in a state where severe weather is simply a part of what must be faced on any given day during the spring and summer.

The trepidation I mentioned earlier really wasn't for myself, or even my wife who also grew up here. I've got two small kids now, one old enough to realize the danger and he'll have to come to terms with it. I think that's the basis of my real fear - having to help get him past the initial shock and fear of living in a place where whirling winds of terror could potentially pluck you from the ground and hurl you to points unknown; to get past that to the point of simply accepting it as a normal part of life.

And since he, his sister, and my wife were visiting my inlaws over the weekend, he missed his first real experience with severe weather. So this "initiation" is yet to come. But he'll get through it. One of the basic coping mechanisms of our species is adapting to our surrounding environments, no matter the conditions. From living in a war torn environment, to the supposed constant threat of terrorism - we tend to find ways to get by (albeit sometimes in ways that do long term damage to our psychies).

And speaking of living under the constant threat of terrorism, I would recommend today's Unger report (, where he makes a humorous yet pointed comparison between living under the threat of tornadoes vs. the threat of terrorism.

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