It is coming, my long awaited spring. I know it is almost here, because the harbinger with which it is most associated in my psyche has made it's arrival. The tulips, you suggest? Oh no. The jonquils, hyacinths and first buds of hydrangea? Indeed not, simple reader. My Harbinger of Spring made it's first visit to my Small Southern Town just last night, and brought with it the herald of a new season. What is my Harbinger, you ask? Why, it's the Tornado Siren, of course. Ah yes, that most trusted of forecasters, wisest of prognosticators, most trustworthy of oracles, the Tornado Siren sings it's Siren's song to welcome us into the into this, the most beautiful and deadly of seasons. You see, gentle reader, my Small Southern Town is located in what is referred to in meteorological circles as "Tornado Alley". The denizens of storm chasing have christened our little strip of middle America with this moniker for good reason. In 2008 alone there were approximately 84 tornadoes that touched down in the state of Arkansas, and so for each of those you can guarantee that there were another 2 or 3 dozens times that those tornado sirens sang their song in the fear that there MIGHT be a tornado SOMEWHERE that could POSSIBLY touch down. Now please, gentle reader, do not get me wrong. I do not begrudge the sounding of the siren, I simply feel that with all of our 4warn Doppler/live scan/sky cat/etc etc etc radar technology, we may have become a bit trigger happy with the siren. But I digress. Those sirens are meant to make us aware of impending danger, and to take shelter-not run out with out dukes up, right?
It is important that you understand that I actually grew up in Oklahoma. There are three things that Oklahoma has in abundance; cows, red dirt, and tornadoes. My formative springs were spent huddled in front the magic talking box, watching the Guru of all things falling from the sky, Gary England. For those of you who aren't familiar with Mr. England, he is the equivalent of a rock star in weather man land. If Gary England tells you to take some sort of action doing an Oklahoma storm, you take it. I swear Mr. England could instruct the citizens of the state to go out and throw eggs at the sky, and they'd be out in droves. He's something of a storm demigod, and his word is simply not to be doubted. So, we Okie's all knew that spring had officially arrived in our fair state when the sirens started singing, Mr. England was constantly breaking into our regularly scheduled pro gaming, and the men of the town took to their front porches to see if they cold actually see the things coming. That is the appropriate response to a warning siren, is it not? To run to the exterior of your home to see if you can ascertain from which direction death is stalking you?? *SIGH*
These occasions were met with quiet calm by my mother. Knowing her well as an adult I realize she was probably taking breaks every few minutes to run to the bathroom to vomit in panic, but on the face of it she was cool as a cucumber. I looked to her for my cues to take cover, but in the meantime I had some preparation of my own to attend to. I new one truth about tornadoes that terrified me; they took all your stuff. So, each time those sirens sounded I'd go quickly to my bedroom and gather together my most prizes earthly goods. I'd take my new The Fox and The Hound lunchbox, and fill it with my treasures. Always included were my lace covered Bible, courtesy of my aunt and uncles wedding, my ceramic mouse sporting a jaunty chapeau, a small collection of fossils which had been carefully dug from the Stroud Elementary School playground, and my Star Wars trading cards. These are the things I wanted to make certain I had with me in the event that A) I was blown completely out of Kansas, or B) I lost all my other worldly goods. Who needs clothes when you have Luke Skywalker, right? I don't actually remember taking real cover more than once or twice, but those dang sirens burned their sound into my brain as an integral part of the beginning of this season.
So, Spring is officially here in my mind, although she's still 10 days away by the rules of the equinox. It's really almost time to bust out my gardening gloves, to dig in the earth and to welcome back the sun and warmth of my favorite time of the year. But all good things have balance, do they not? Would we treasure our spring blossoms as deeply if there wasn't the slightest threat they'd be torn from the vine by winds, or nipped in the bud with frost? That is what makes life both beautiful and ugly, a joy and a challenge. Good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people, and we are left with the eternal question of "why". But it's when those blossoms spring to life, live out their beauty, and fade back to dust that we get to enjoy the true fullness and wonder of life. It's the times when the deserving soul is rewarded that we experience a triumph of sorts. Life is full of little Springs, each with their good and bad. You can guarantee I'll enjoy each minute of it, but I'm keeping my eyes on the sky and my ears peeled for that siren. In the end, wouldn't it be fabulous if sirens warned us about all the stuff that could ruin our lives??