March 3, 2006

Send me your worst, Mother Nature!

I love a good storm.

I'm not just saying this because today, I get to procrastinate at home instead of in a cubicle across town.

I've been waiting eagerly for this storm, ever since it was spotted off the coast of California a few days ago. I felt like a child awaiting Christmas.

Storms help me relax. I am one of those lame people who hardly ever takes a vacation day and never gets sick. And even if I do, I still check my e-mail, just in case I missed something interesting. I know, I'm a dork. Even on weekends, I usually stay home, but I always feel guilty about the things I am not doing. Desperately needed shopping trips. Overdue oil changes. Christmas lights still hanging in March.

But if it snows so much that the city shuts down, I get to stay home and do nothing without feeling guilty about it - because hey, no one else is doing anything productive either.

Last New Year's, about six feet of snow fell on the Reno are in one weekend. Sure, there were some disasters: My two-hour death march to Safeway, the spectacular collapse of our back patio cover, and the innumerable times my poor little car got stuck in the unplowed side streets of my neighborhood.

It was also kind of fun. For three days, Sam and I tag-teamed between shoveling the driveway and playing the Sims. We read books, made grilled cheese sandwiches, and enjoyed each other's company.

I also got to know my neighbors, usually as they helped to push my car out of a big snow pile. I also learned which neighbors I didn't care for, as they whizzed past me in their overpriced late model SUV, avoiding eye contact so they would feel less guilty about not stopping to help me.

But the best part of that ordeal was being able to say I survived it. Hell, I even had some property damage.

As much as I enjoy the occasional Donner-Party-esque snowfall in the Sierras, I'd trade it all for a raging, Midwestern-style summer thunderstorm.

When I was growing up in North Dakota, each summer there would come at least one storm that turned the afternoon sky black, banished my family to the basement, and set off the tornado sirens. I can still hear the pounding of rain on the roof, switching to the higher-pitched plink sound of falling hail. As soon as I was old enough to drive, I took up tornado chasing.

A small, evil part of me always wanted storms to be more dramatic than they were. The hail was never quite big enough. The lightning always stopped too soon.

I know that storms are serious business. I came alarmingly close to dying in a blizzard once - it's a heartbreaking story, because not all of my acquaintances were so lucky.

But that's just another thing to love. Extreme weather reminds us of our frailty as humans. It reminds us that all of this is temporary, and that we are living on this earth because God (earth, nature, however you want to view it) has allowed us this time, and our lease could run out at any moment. Once the snow clears, or the rain stops, or the funnel cloud dissipates, I always feel just a little more appreciative of the world around me. Unless it's one of those rains that makes all the earthworms come out and die on the sidewalks... then I just feel a general malaise.

Unfortunately, this morning's storm didn't reach epic proportions. Not even close. The sun is peeking through the clouds, and only a couple of inches of snow have stuck to the ground. I can leave the house again. The world is my oyster, and I'm profoundly disappointed.

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