I love weather. I particularly love strong weather. When dark clouds boil up on the horizon and everyone else heads for shelter, I go outside and stare up at the sky with what I am sure is an idiotic expression of bliss. I love to feel the blast of cold air that precedes a front; I love a sudden hard rain; I adore thunderstorms, particularly when they wake me in the middle of the night.
I’m serious. Lying in bed and listening to a thunderstorm rolling in makes me incredibly happy. I will lie there and count the seconds between lightning flash and thunderclap, no matter how much sleep I’m losing. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a storm that got bad enough to frighten me, and that includes Hurricane Isabel nearly three years ago. I love thunder. I remember how ecstatic I was a couple years back when I experienced my first “thunder snow” – a meteorological event that’s fairly uncommon. John just couldn’t see what I was so excited about.
I am also guilty of wanting to see a tornado – live, but not necessarily up close. I’ve seen tornadic waterspouts and a dust devil, but they’re just not the same. I have been in tornado-producing weather – I’ve seen the weird greeny-gray sky, watched the wind whipping the tree limbs; hell, I’ve even seen mammatus clouds – but I’ve never seen an actual funnel. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want to be IN a tornado, but I’d sure like to see one.
I don’t believe that my lust to see a tornado would ever drive me as far as taking a tornado-spotting trip. There’s something about those storm chasers that sets my teeth on edge – probably the inane screams and whoops of glee on their videos as a tornado touches down and tears up someone’s home. A tornado is not a spectator sport. It’s a force of nature, and should be observed with respect.
I feel about tornadoes much the same way as I felt when I saw the Grand Canyon. In spite of all the photographs and video I’d seen of it beforehand, in spite of all the tourists and busses and helicopters flying over and park rangers and billboards and hotels and souvenirs, the Grand Canyon left me dumbstruck. Like a tornado, it has a terrible splendor that renders it untouchable. We can’t get control it, we can’t grip it, we can’t get our arms around it. It exists in spite of us. It doesn’t care.
In a world where human beings control so much, it makes me happy that there is something that we cannot control; that in spite of centuries of research and invention, we can’t make the weather do our bidding. It deflates our arrogance and gives us humility. It shows us that man is not the master of the earth.
That job is taken.