"One killed in Parkersburg," the Des Moines Register says this morning, above the fold.
For most of Iowa, the town of Parkersburg will, for a lifetime, be associated with tornadoes after a monster ripped out half the village in 2008, killing five while destroying almost 300 homes and 22 businesses with unimaginable winds of 230 miles per hour.
A decade later in Parkersburg, people mind storm warnings, I'm sure.
Yesterday, I didn't.
It was raining. It was cold. Wasn't particularly windy, wasn't tornado weather. Tornadoes rise from swamps, from massive afternoon heat and humidity so dank you can feel 'em before skies even threaten. Yesterday felt like jolly old England, Seattle on a good day. Tornadoes?--bah, humbug.
Which is why I didn't mind the warning, didn't turn around when my phone went perfectly berserk and told me TO SEEK SHELTER. I was in the car, my father-in-law beside me, a man whose hearing is so bad he never heard the phone's insane braying, didn't know a thing about tornadoes threatening, was thrilled to get out of the home for a ride in the country.
We'd just left the home. Turning around would have been prudent, but bringing him back into a place just then going into tornado mode seemed even more disturbing--who knew what they'd do with all those old folks? He still doesn't feel at home there and was thrilled to get out for a ride. After all, the corn is up. There's things to see.
When we got to Sioux Center, the road was almost dry--that's the truth. We stopped off at a friend's house to pick up some plants and found her out back, where she told me how great it was to garden in light rain. No problem.
Got back in the car, and the phone went blindly insane again. The skies had darkened by this time, and I was less sure of myself. My daughter called from some basement shelter on campus where, by directive, all employees were sitting out the warning. She let me have it--after all, I had grandpa along too yet. Go home, she told me. I was just a few blocks from her house.
So we did. Grandpa and I sat out what remained of the tornado warning, watching the whole weather mess on a giant screen with my son-in-law and grandson. And the dog, Gus, who jumped up in Grandpa's lap and was thereafter greatly loved. Once the warnings died, we went home.
I don't know how much of all of that my father-in-law understood. He didn't hear my phone or my daughter. We tried to show him what the TV was showing, but I'm not sure he understands that close-up weather radar any more.
But my word, he was proud as anything when the two of us marched back into the home. "Out chasing tornadoes, eh, Randall?" one of the nurses said, and as big a smile as I've seen on his face spread cheek-to-cheek. For a moment there, I think he felt himself a man.
You're an idiot, my daughter would say, and she's probably right. My friends in Parkersburg would certainly call me a fool, and they wouldn't be wrong. So I'll repent. I should have turned around and brought my dad back into the home when my phone went bonkers. I know I should have.
Just the same, the truth is, we had fun. Just ask him.
Did I mention? The corn is up.
Photo from Siouxland Severe Weather Network.