Ridin’ Out The Storm With The Duke

I love irony.

I was noodling on the computer today while listening to Duke Ellington’s very nice version of “Stormy Weather,” and I happened to notice outside my window that the weather was really starting to deteriorate. It didn’t surprise me because we’ve had a lot of storms lately – including a tornado or two – but when matched up with the music it seemed like a sign that I should write about my own rainy day memories.

But that’s not the ironic part. Nope, that occurred after I’d spent some time writing a good beginning to my little piece about stormy weather, and a sudden lightning bolt caused the power to fail and I lost what I’d written. Now that’s irony.

Stormy weather has always seemed to inspire songwriters, but most of the songs they’ve generated have not been about the bad weather itself. Instead, they’re mostly related to the moods and feelings that gloomy weather evokes in all of us. But stormy days can also remind of us past weather-related experiences. We all have stories about big storms and even tornadoes, and although I’ve been fortunate enough to elude big twisters, I’ve been close a few times.

One that comes to mind was almost exactly ten years ago. It was a warm and windy afternoon, and a storm front blew in while I happened to be on a long-distance phone call with my son. As I was talking to him, I realized that the sky outside was getting very dark and the wind was blowing so hard that some of the smaller trees were bent over sideways. At about that moment, I heard a drumming, roaring sound that seemed to be getting louder, so I told him I had to go because I thought we might be in a tornado.

As the noise intensified, Mrs. BigGeez and I hurried to an interior room and huddled, and after a tense and noisy few minutes the storm seemed to pass. We caught our breath and then came out to look through a window. The first thing we saw was that at least part of the noise had been caused by an avalanche of hail, because it was everywhere. We were also amazed to see that the sun was coming out!

I opened the front door, walked out and saw that a lot of our neighbors were doing the same. We all stood around and looked at what appeared to be an alien landscape, because our normally green lawn was buried under a couple of inches of hail, which made it look like a snowy Winter day. Meanwhile, the normally gray street in front of the house was was bright green, which puzzled me until I realized that it was covered with shredded leaves from the trees — the hail had left them almost bare. And finally, the sun was causing the hail to begin melting so a steamy mist was floating over it all.

A very strange, almost surreal scene and an unforgettable experience (and an expensive one because we had to replace our house’s roof and siding) but according to the weather bureau it was not a tornado.

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