Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Tornadoes are like spiders for me: I find them tremendously fascinating but terrifying. I was afraid of tornadoes before I even saw one. I think this happened because I took my cues from those older than me: One day I saw how freaked out my mom was that the sky was green and the air was suddenly still, so I got freaked out too. I remember being told to get in the basement and stay there until the danger passed. I remember the sirens that would sound in town whenever there was a tornado warning and I remember the high-pitched alert that came through the TV and the mysterious words that would appear when we were put on a “Tornado Watch”.

I think storm chasers have to be among the craziest people in the world. The movie “Twister” first made me aware that there even were such people.

When I was a kid I heard my mom say to someone once: “When a tornado is getting close, it sounds like a freight train.” That night, I awoke to the sound of a violent wind that sounded like a train, and I sat straight up in bed, convinced a tornado was making a bee-line for us. I ran to my mom’s room and told her a tornado was coming. She took me back to my room, which also happened to be the laundry room, and pointed out to me that it was just the washer spinning on high speed.

There are no tornadoes in Ecuador, so I grew up without them being part of my mindset. I find them freaky and fascinating at the same time. I can watch countless videos of them, but I’m pretty sure that if I saw one coming my way, I would not be standing around with my video camera.

In some ways I think I’m actually a bit of a tornado snob. I’m much more impressed by the ones that are about a mile wide and seem like they can suck up whole cities in one gulp. I know the skinny ones can do damage too, but really, they are just so, SKINNY. I tried to find photos but I was wasn’t feeling, so just go with me here and use your imagination.

I’m glad we live in Madrid, where we can get a wicked good thunderstorm without having to worry about the potential of a mean-spirited cloud coming by to gobble up my world. And for the record, I think that tornadoes that happen at night are the meanest ones of all because you can’t even seen them coming.

The only thing I can say in defense of tornados is that at least they are somewhat predictable when the weather conditions are a certain way. That ranks them over earthquakes in my book, because you definitely can’t see an earthquake coming! No way, no how.

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