Life is Simple
Those of us who have grown up in the Midwest know that tornados can occur at anytime—not just in the spring and summer. That’s why Tom was concerned that afternoon in early January when temperatures were unseasonably warm with a fast- approaching cold front.
Tom deals in replacement cows, buying and selling them over a wide area of the central United States. This year, he’s bought a lot of them in the drought-stricken southeast and found homes for them in the center of the country. He routinely has several on hand at his farm and that Monday evening was no different as the local TV station pre-empted all regular programming to provide continuous warnings and updates. Tom worried about the cows.
The tornadic storms were lined up all the way from Dallas to the northeast of St. Louis. Storm chasers, sheriff’s departments, and emergency personnel were reporting touchdowns all around him so Tom checked the cows one last time before returning to the house for the night. The weather was so ominous, he even let his faithful servant, “Annie” in the house for the evening, even though he had long held that a dog in the house was not the ‘cowboy way.’ However, Tom figured since he lived alone it wouldn’t do any harm for his stock dog to share his company as they were both worried about the storms.
After an all night back-and-forth of looking out the window to the southwest and observing the TV radar, the confident weather anchor assured him that the worst was over and he should only expect heavy rain and gusty, straight winds the remainder of the night. It was 11 p.m. as Tom went to bed. Annie seemed to enjoy the rare treat of staying inside, making herself at home at the foot of Tom’s bed.
At 2 a.m., Tom was awakened by Annie’s whining and what sounded like someone throwing rocks on the top of his house. Annie was irritated and nervously pacing back and forth. Tom got out of bed and walked to the back door. Turning on the light and opening the door, he could see large chunks of ice on the ground and continuing to fall from the sky as the night-time darkness blanketed him with an eerie quiet… except for the pummeling of the ice.
Tom quickly decided it might be time to put on his clothes and head for the basement. But, by the time he pulled on his boots, he remembered that he didn’t have a basement. Suddenly, he could hear the “freight train” approaching.
Knowing he and Annie didn’t have time to make it to the truck and outrun the tornado, they ran to the center of his house and jumped in the bathtub, at which time Annie immediately whined and urinated, then the noise grew thunderous and deafening. Tom pulled Annie close to him and said, “Sorry old girl, but we’re #$%^&,” then closed his eyes and braced himself for the worst.
After what seemed like an eternity (probably closer to 30 seconds), the noise ceased and Tom realized that he and Annie had been spared. Despite Annie’s untimely lapse of bathtub etiquette, Tom embraced his old cowdog as never before, thankful they were both alive. The next morning, Tom admitted that he had learned three important lessons the night before: #1 – I’ll never trust a forecaster, #2 – I’ll never wait till disaster stares me in the face again to let my dog know what I think of her, and #3 – I don’t have a basement.
Jerry Crownover farms in Lawrence County. He is a former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University, and is an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry about his books or to arrange speaking engagements, you may contact him through his website at www.jerrycrownover.com