That's what's left of my parents' charming, windowed back porch after a tornado blew through their small Midwestern town Wednesday night, tearing off roofs, downing giant oak trees, and miraculously not harming a single person. In a few short seconds, a funnel cloud blew past, tore up the porch and garage, and bit off a big chunk of the roof of the house. Kablammy!
It's the house I grew up in, and it's where my parents have lived for nearly 60 years; my father designed the house and helped build it, and it housed four children, two dogs, bunnies, parakeets, a small ocean of fish, the odd guinea pig and a rather cranky cockatoo. My folks seem rattled, but fine. A next-door house was completely shifted on its foundation, walls buckling, and its prognosis sounds none too good. They seem to be particularly sad about a giant, truly beautiful Blue Spruce in the front yard they had nurtured from baby-Christmas tree size that was yanked up by the roots. But generally, nothing but reason for relief.
Like anyone who grew up in or around tornado alley, we grew up thrilling at tornado warnings. The loud beep that interrupted television shows; the occasional blare of the town siren, signaling that a funnel cloud had been sited; the unspeakably creepy, tell-tale green tint that saturates everything outside when conditions are particularly ripe for destruction. But it had all been the stuff of Weather Channel fantasy for me before Wednesday. I'm just extremely grateful my brother Kevin (who took this snap) and his son, Brett, were close enough to drive up and help dig out of this mess.