Cowboy and I live at the edge of tornado alley, and after a particularly close call in 2014, decided a storm shelter would be a good idea. Of course, we pray that we will never actually need it, but it’s a comfort to have that steel box bolted deep into the foundation. (Yes, we have an above ground job – I’m not looking to crawl into one those tomb like things people put in their garage floors. No thank you!)
Which leads me to one of the first nights of the new year. We’ve been waffling between hot and cold weather, as if mother nature is in the middle of a hot flash, a hottie, her own personal summer, or whatever granny calls it. This also means severe weather is always a possibility.
We’d been watching the weather that day, which had been glorious, but knew storms were coming in from the west. As the evening progressed, warnings started coming about potential straight line winds – up to 70 miles per hour. We did our usual battening down of the hatches, which these days means making sure the pool side lounge chairs don’t become kites, and horse gates are latched open so the equines can move around at will. (Goodness knows I’d love to have a storm shelter big enough for our horses, but honestly I’m not sure I’d want to be locked in there with them as a storm blew over. That might be a storm all on its own.)
Well, at 3 a.m., the time of all good storms, I woke up with my heart pounding as I heard a giant bang. Thunder! The wind chimes were blowing furiously, and I looked out the window just in time to see of one of our rocking chairs go flying off the porch. (Dang it, we clearly needed to do more battening.) I heard the sounds of small hail starting to pelt our metal roof. Hemming and hawing for all of about two minutes, I decided it was time to put ourselves in the shelter. (You do remember, we have 4 dogs and 6 cats, and you can bet your bottom dollar, if we’re going in the shelter they are, too!)
Let me paint you a picture. It’s 3 a.m., I’m clad in pink heart pajamas, and we are about to start an indoor rodeo roundup. First up – cats! I bound up the stairs to grab Nightmare, where I know his favorite hiding spot is. Into the first cat kennel. Door locked. Next! Moving on to the big boy, Rhinoceros. Oh man, I haven’t had him in a kennel for a little while; that took some shoving. (Note to self, he might need to graduate to the big boy kennel.) Then it was time for Shadow and her crew of boys. As Cowboy says, thank goodness God gave cats tails for handles. One, two, three, four – all shoved into one giant kennel. Now they normally lay together all day, but like most children, force them to play nice and there is hissing, swatting, and growling.
Finally, it’s time to add the pooches. On Dixie, on Goober, on Maybelle, and Max – yes it feels like you are calling Santa’s reindeer there are so flipping many of them. Herding them all into the shelter with the promise of treats, the last one entered just in time for us to shut the door and lock our little family in place. (Oh gosh, this is also when I remember that Nightmare likes to hide presents in the storm shelter. Please Lord, let there be not one little half eaten mouse in here with us.)
And then you hear it. The panting, the whining, the banging of tails, as you realize you are in a 12-by-4-foot steel box with 10 critters! Are we sure this was really a great idea? Dogs are sniffing cats, cats are doing that dreadful cry they do when you drive them to the vet, and everyone is just confused. Of course Max, the golden retriever, just lays down and takes a nap in the middle of it all, because seriously, in case you missed, it is 3 a.m.
But then I looked around at all of those noses, paws, and ears, and I was grateful. We were all safe in our box. And I was praying the horses would use all of their God-given instincts to stay safe.
Adjusting to the dim light, I smiled at what else I saw. Before bed, I had the presence of mind to put our Bible in the shelter, because nothing comforts better than that. Oh, but I did mention a bra in the title, right? Why, pray tell, am I talking about unmentionables?
All of us good southerners know that we are dreadfully misrepresented on the news when there is a natural disaster. For whatever reason, the news can spot a shirtless, toothless, shoeless fella a mile away. Well, this southern farmgirl was not going to have it. If, heaven forbid, we lost it all, I was at least going to emerge from the shelter dressed in something other than jammies. So yes, before we went to bed, when forecasters were warning of storms, and winds, and danger, I was busy tossing the necessities into the shelter, which any lady will tell you, definitely includes a bra. Which also guarantees, we would not be on the news. Amen-glory-hallelujah for that!
After 10 minutes of howling winds, the edge of the front moved on and we were left with simple rain and no real damage. Thank you, Lord! But I realized something in that box. When it comes right down to grabbing the things you absolutely must have in this life, the list is preciously small. (And yes, there is always room for a bra.)