Friday, May 09, 2008


Last night I was sprawled in an armchair, lazily catching up on the Sunday New York Times, periodically bellowing at my children to turn on the TV to see if the Office was on. No one would oblige me, so I turned on the TV myself, and instead of seeing Dwight and Michael, I heard Eric Pritchett's panicked voice talking about a tornado warning.

We don't get many tornadoes here in Virginia, although we get even fewer tornadoes in Buffalo, where I grew up. My only experience with tornadoes is my mother's story about how she was visiting someone in Indiana or Illinois, or somewhere, and saw a tiny tornado carry off somebody's rosebush.

The TV warned us repeatedly to "get LOW and stay LOW"--not very catchy, I must say. Couldn't someone have come up with an easy tornado rhyme?

How LOW can you go? This storm is gonna BLOW.
To the basement we go. We need to stay LOW.
When the tornado is acomin' to the basement go runnin'.

My house, with its outdoor-only access basement, is particularly unsuited for tornado survival. How, pray, am I supposed to round up four children, two dogs, and a bunny and take them out into a storm and around the side of the house, and unlock the padlock and usher everybody inside before an approaching tornado obliterates us? The animals are particularly problematic. The bunny would have to travel by Black Bag, which he does not like, and I envisioned the dogs attacking the bunny in the bag while we huddled in the basement. I also saw myself tugging uselessly on two leashes, trying to get two panicked dogs into a basement they are both afraid of.

My daughter Miss G made a case for all of us hiding in the closet instead. This is the closet.

Can you imagine six people, two large dogs and a bunny squeezed in here? I told Miss G that she could go into the closet, but the rest of us would take our chances with the basement.

This is me, awaiting death as predicted by the NBC 29 Storm Team.

Jon, meanwhile, was nowhere to be found. We had NO idea where he had got to. He was not in the house, he was not on the porch. He was gone and the Storm Team's hysterical reporting had worked my younger children into a state of high anxiety. The bunny's cage was moved away from the window and piled with blankets. Mr. McP had the dog leashes. I had the key to the basement wound around my wrist on a string. I think my time would have been better spent reading the hysterical commentary on the storm coverage over at Cvillain.

It was all so exciting, I was half disappointed when they canceled the tornado warning for Charlottesville. Just at that moment, Jon came breezing into the house. He'd been at the neighbor's looking at possible doors for our new bathroom.


  1. We spent the storm bailing water out of our basement. We live on the top of a hill, so flooding shouldn't be a problem.

  2. we hovered in our "inner hallway" while watching the hype on the tv far across the room. we also have a basement accessible only from the outside, but a nasty basement it is, and not even a tornado warning can convince me to hang out in it. we finally left the inner hallway, turned off the tv, and opened the front door so we could enjoy the sound of thunder. i wasn't sure if we should all sleep upstairs in our bedrooms, but by the time one tornado warning had expired and another had been reissued without nary a drop of rain or gust of wind, we decided to disregard it all and flop into our beds far too late into the night. it all seemed a little bit too much crying wolf.