Yesterday was a normal, hot, Oklahoma-Summer kind of day. The temperature hit 100 degrees and Elodie and I stayed in most of the day, under the air conditioning on the couch. In the evening the temperature started to cool down and it was like it was Spring again. Clouds covered the sky and we laid in the hammock until her cheeks turned pink.
When I came inside to start dinner, I heard thunder, and already in my head, I was excited about our evening. Michael would be home from work at 7:30, dinner would be ready, Elodie would be bathed and in bed, and we would have a date night - backed by the sound of one of our sweet Summer thunderstorms.
I went outside to take video of the storm coming in. The clouds whirled in a sea of gray and the family of grackles - Mama & Papa bird, and their three babies chattered in the Bradford Pear tree behind our house. I took video of them, dancing, whistling, singing. I have been taping them for the last few weeks. Leaving the shelter of their home, black silhouettes against our beautiful sky.
Twenty minutes after Michael got home, the wind started to tear through the sky and we lost power. The house went dark, my music turned off, and the stove turned cold.
And then the most powerful storm I have ever been in ripped through our neighborhood and took everything in it's path. For half an hour, hail almost the size of tennis balls, 85 mile per hour winds, and heavy rain poured down onto our house. I have lived in Oklahoma my entire life, been in hundreds of tornado warnings and never once have I seen anything like it. Our trees bent and snapped, our window screens were bent and ripped from the frames, and I couldn't do anything but stand in the window, videotaping and watching something so powerful that I had absolutely no control of.
When it was over, we went outside to see what had happened to our little yard and house.
Outside, we found the shredded remains of the plants and flowers I spent the last few months nurturing. Our willow tree lost almost all it's branches, and there was a fence in our yard that did not belong to us, or any of our neighbors.
The wind picked up again, and the storm was coming back. Originally it had come from the North and destroyed our back yard. This time we felt it coming from the South, and we ran back inside before the second round of hail, high winds, and rain came through and did more damage.
When it was over, the sun started to come out and the air was still and calm. There was still rain falling, big glassy beads shining in the sunshine.
Other than crushed shutters, downed fences, ripped screens, and this hole in our house, we got lucky. Our neighbor lost a few windows from the huge hail, and their house flooded.
Most of our damage came to our little yard...my gardens.
I walked through the yard with a sad feeling in the pit of my stomach. My sunflower garden laid destroyed, before it ever had a chance to bloom into a field of yellow.
My saddest discovery came with the realization that most of the giant Bradford Pear was gone. The sweet Spring blooms I clip to bring inside, the flat green plates it formed in the Summer, that burned bright and red by Fall. And the family of grackles.
Mama and Papa bird were flying frantically from tree to tree, circling our street looking for their babies.
I held E a little bit tighter and felt an overwhelming guilt for so strongly mourning a patch of lost sunflowers.
When night rolled around and our power still wasn't back on, we packed up with flashlights and headed to my parents house.
I thought about our June 14th storm. Living in a state with storms so strong that 35,000 homes were left without power. Just like the song says, every Spring and Summer, wind, hail, tornadoes, and rain sweep down our plains and leave destruction. And every year, like a haunting reminder, we realize that we are part of something bigger than our every day.
The world keeps spinning, the grackles will have a new brood of babies, and even my sunflower patch will grow back, next Summer.
Today, I am thankful for our health, insurance, and weather so bad, that the good seems that much sweeter.
Also read: Where the Wind Comes Sweeping Down the Plain - May 2010