December 16, 2010

thankful for rain

I was born and raised in Oregon. And for most of my life I lived in blissful ignorance of the fact that Oregon does indeed get the occasional tornado. I thought they only happened in Tornado Alley, which is a safe distance away. Then one summer we had a freak storm that brought an ugly sky, torrential rain, and tornado warnings. Earlier I had given a ride home to our neighbor, and it just looked like a cloudy June day. Back at home we had the radio on, and the next thing I know I'm hearing the first tornado warning of my life, and I have a couple of freaked out kids who don't want to look out the window, but can't stop looking out the window. Later we learned that there had been a small tornado, but not near our part of the valley. And so my ignorance was cured on June 4 2009.

We live in Salem, in the middle of the Willamette Valley which runs north-south between the Cascade Range (home to many volcanoes) and the smaller Coast Range, with Portland at one end of the valley, and Eugene at the other. It is home to much agriculture, most notably grass seed, plant nurseries, berries and vegetables, Christmas trees, filberts (sadly, the only nut I don't like) and the lower hills along the valley are home to many vineyards. It also turns out to be Oregon's own little Tornado Alley. Although our tornadoes are few and small, I still find it a bit disturbing!

Late morning, December 14, I was working in my studio, and suddenly it was very dark. Like someone turned the lights out. Eventually the offending cloud dumped heavy rain and moved on. This had happened several previous days also, and I was thinking how tired I was of all the dark gray clouds and rain. I just wished it would snow, or the sun would come out, something. Anything but more gray rain! I don't think even an hour had passed before I heard about a tornado on the other side of the valley, and felt ashamed of my complaining.

As I later saw photos of the tornado damage, I felt so bad for all the people whose houses were damaged or destroyed, and just before Christmas, at that. The tornado is estimated to have been an EF2. It did quite a bit of damage in the small town of Aumsville. Ironically, I read that the plumbing store that was hard-hit was also seriously damaged in a previous tornado years ago. In a state with so few tornados, what are the odds of that? The day after thankfully wasn't terribly rainy. And today is clear so far, a break they desperately need for clean-up and rebuilding. But next time, I will try not to get so sour over gray rain. I may even be thankful, at least thankful that it isn't something worse!

No comments: