Last Monday, the boys and I had just finished lunch at a local restaurant and were in the car ready to head to Target when my cellphone rang.
It was my neighbor asking if we were OK. I said we were … but was mystified as to why she was asking. As it turned out, we had missed the “Giant Voice” in our neighborhood on Fort Hood announcing a tornado had been spotted outside Copperas Cove and to take cover. I knew it was raining cats and dogs, as usual, but did not realize a tornado was near. So we drove to Target, since returning to post was farther and I wanted to get us off the roads and into shelter ASAP. Once inside, it appeared others had the same idea. And though I definitely had a long shopping list to tackle, I found it hard to concentrate on such a mundane task. Our rainy weather was no longer just annoying—it had become dangerous and even deadly.
People living in the Wimberley area near San Antonio certainly found this out recently, as flash-flooding swept a number of people vacationing there — mostly from Corpus Christi — away. Twelve are still missing, including young children. I cannot even imagine the kind of heartbreak their family members and friends are feeling right now. Then there is the tragic news of homecoming queen returning from her prom last Sunday in Devine, who was suddenly overwhelmed by floodwaters. And a bit farther away, there is the tornado that whipped through Ciudad Acuna, on the U.S-Mexico border Monday, killing 13 people. Property damage is also staggering: More than 1,000 houses in Central Texas have been damaged or destroyed leaving many residents displaced.
I have always had a healthy fear of tornadoes. Back when I was around 7 or 8 and living in Louisville, I remember my mother going to the grocery store on a stormy, windy day. I believe there was a tornado watch in effect. I can recall like it was yesterday the anxious feeling in my stomach and how I hoped she’d return home safely. Walking around Target, I had a very similar sensation. My 13-year-old was cracking jokes and acting unfazed, which is a sure sign he was nervous, too. The younger boy asked a lot of questions about how safe we would be if a tornado hit us while shopping — questions I honestly couldn’t answer. What I did tell them on the way home was that, no matter how civilized, sophisticated, and high-tech we think we are, Mother Nature always has the last say.
Besides the ominous aspects of this constant rainfall, I am finding that I’ve simply had enough and am missing the hot Texas sun that I have foolishly taken for granted. Now that summer’s just around the corner, I want to wear shorts and take the kids to the pool and hang out on our back patio soaking up some morning rays. Also, rain just makes everything more difficult. Walking the dog is a soggy, muddy affair, and the boys are always tracking in dirt on their shoes. Mosquitoes are in full force, hovering over the many puddles and pools of water in the grass. Normal outings that used to require nothing more than a sweatshirt now must be thought through and rain gear schlepped along. Excursions to the zoo, going hiking in local parks and other outdoorsy activities are not practical or fun in this deluge. To be fair, there have been moments of sunshine and hours of no rain. But you know it’s coming back soon. On the plus side, the grass has never looked greener and no one has to water their plants. And we are no longer under the extreme drought conditions that have lingered for so long. Lakes and area reservoirs are filling up and reaching “normal” levels after years of minimal rain.
From an emotional perspective, this endless precipitation brings back memories of living in Washington state as a child. As beautiful as it was (and is) there, I endured some major bouts of seasonal affective disorder, which often hits people in the winter months and can cause mild to severe depression. To keep my spirits up during these overcast days, I’m trying not to turn to the Oreos for comfort.
A few suggestions to other folks who might be tired of slogging through the wet stuff: Take a Vitamin D supplement, try to get some exercise every day and take advantage of the hours when it’s not raining, if possible. The forecast actually says “partly sunny” today so enjoy!