January 18, 2010

And Now, A Word about our Weather

This essay is NOT about climate change. It’s about weird weather. I moved to southern Indiana twenty-three years ago last week, and this is the WEIRDEST place – weather wise – I have lived.

We have two weather conditions that I never heard of before – thunder snow and freezing fog. The first time I heard the expression “thunder snow” I thought the Weather Prognosticator was making it up. It just sounded too ridiculous.

Then I heard big, booming thunder during a snowstorm. Now I have occasionally been known to add a half a shot of peppermint schnapps to my hot chocolate (usually Christmas Eve) but this was not such an occasion. Thunder snow, really!

Tonight we are having freezing fog. Freezing fog happens when the ground is still frigid, but the air temperature warms. Driving home from work around 5 p.m. I could barely see in front of my old Honda. The Prognosticators are having a field day. There’s some talk about school delays. I don’t mean to make light of this, but “in my day…….”

Isn’t the point of my blog to repeatedly and religiously say “in my day…..” and then rattle on about a vivid memory of the Great Snowstorm of 1965 or some such folderol. Here goes:

That one wasn’t a snowstorm. On Palm Sunday 1965, April 11, to be exact 47 ugly tornadoes ripped a wicked path through the Midwest.

I was seven, and my parents took my brother and me to see Mary Poppins that day. This was a big deal as we traveled from our little town to the nearby big city of Ft. Wayne. We went to the Jefferson Theatre, which had comfortable, blue velvet seats. I’m not sure but I think the admission price was $2.50 a person. (In 1965, the children’s price at our own Kent Theatre was fifty cents, and the owners Vi and Don LeBrun made better popcorn than the Jefferson or any Ft. Wayne theatre.)

After the movie, we drove home west on Indiana 14. I can describe the sky today, because its colors were so unusual – a mustardy yellow with a horizon of dark purple like some uncouth modern art. The scariest thing about the drive home was the absolute stillness. Across the farmland and homesteads, there was no wind, actually an absence of movement and air. Thinking about it now gives me the chills.

We arrived home before the storms began. Our little town was spared. Quoth the raven, rambling about the weather again for no apparent reason.