Saturday, April 5, 2014

Saturday Musings, 05 April 2014

Good morning,

I won't pretend to be surprised that frost clung to the grass and the furnace kicked on just as I rose to make coffee this morning.  I've walked through snow in Easter shoes and told the same old story about not liking the weather, and waiting a minute, for my entire life as a Missourian.  Still, I can see my vincas peeking from under the rotting leaves that we let lie on the parkway at autumn's end.  Spring slowly creeps into our neighborhood, and my next few blog entries might be written from the wide expanse of our front porch.

A few piles of clutter surround me; there's housework to be done.  But I feel lazy this morning; and thoughtful; and so I sit gazing through the curtains, at the neighbor's trellis which soon will bear great masses of climbing rose.

And I think of other views, from other windows, in other springs.

My rental house in Fayetteville had windows all around it.  On top of what passed for a mountain in town, the house seemed luxurious to me, with its open first floor layout and wide French doors.  I could afford more house there, in that town; I didn't need three bedrooms but had them, and an L-shape living room with a long area for a dining table adjacent to the kitchen.  A balcony off the kitchen and a patio beyond the lower-level  gave me a feeling of grandeur.

There, in that house, with a Calico cat named George, I lived very well on my own.

I had lived thirty-four years in Missouri without seeing frozen pipes and our pipes had frozen the previous winter in Jasper where I lived with my husband before coming to Fayetteville by myself.  But I had seen many spring storms in St. Louis, and so I knew the still feel of the air when a twister approaches.  I knew the cold silence of emptyy trees, with birds hunkered down and squirrels skittered into hidden holes.  I held George in my arms on that little balcony and watched the sky.  My stomach sank; I knew that color, knew what lurked in the gloom on the horizon.  I hastened back into the house and, for some reason, locked the glass doors behind me, shaking their knobs, throwing the burglar latch as though the wind would rattle the frame and, finding it locked, relent and move on.

I stood in my glass-wrapped house, surveying the view, nearly 360 degrees of a watchtower's perspective on the storm that would hit Skyline Drive.

I ran the options:  Closet? Bathroom? The bedrooms all hugged the perimeter, with their own windows, and the open floor plan that I had found so inviting would soon creak beneath the storm.  The cat growled, my own little miner's parakeet, feeling the dropping pressure, or maybe its rise.  Storm's coming, her low rumble told me  Take shelter.

The rooms, painted pale yellow, seemed to dim as the clouds gathered and the tornado neared.  And from somewhere in the recesses of my mind, a  picture from "Life" magazine emerged:  Hurricane-lashed towns, houses demolished, nothing left standing except the chimney, the fireplace, and the hearth surrounding it.  

I pulled the cat inside my sweater and buttoned her against my chest, feeling her claws sink into me, her head snuggle against my throat.  On my own hearth stood a thick Alpaca rug, a patchwork of square fur pieces, with their cured leather backing.  I scrambled into the deep old fireplace, the cat huddled against me, and pulled the rug over the opening just as the storm slammed into us.

The wild noise outside and the yowling of the frightened cat deafened me.  The wind's fury crashed into my home with the force of the devil.  I shrank back against the brick and curled into a ball, while the wind raged and the cat screamed and the thunder roared.

Minutes later, a great stillness surrounded us; falling over my house, and me, and the shivering cat, as we cowered there beneath that Peruvian rug.

I waited.  The cat's body trembled, but I felt her claws retract and only when she had released her grip did I realize that she had plunged those claws into my skin so tightly that I knew I must be bleeding.

When I felt sure the storm's wrath had moved on east, I pushed the fur away from us.  As it fell, I heard the light, tinkling sound of a thousand little beads falling, the rapid, light trail of a shattered rainbow on smooth flagstone.  George and I emerged, and I saw that what had clung to the fur rug now lay scattered across my living room -- a great pile of broken glass, from the windows, the empty frames of which now looked out upon the tree which had fallen on my little balcony.  The rain fell straight, soft, and cool, and the room had the pleasant air of an outdoor cafe.

I stood in the middle of the rubble oblivious to the dampness, my arms wrapped around the cat, who quietly purred against my skin.

Once again my coffee has cooled in its cup while my mind wandered through its dusty scrapbooks.  The room has grown too warm; I realize that the furnace's blast has outlived today's need for it, and the day grows warmer.  Across the state, my nieces, my brother, and a handful of friends hunkered down through the first tornado of this spring, the spring of 2014.  I wonder, not for the first time, what happened to that fur rug.  George, the cat, moved with me to the country when I bought a house later that year; and finished her life in splendor, where she could roam my seven acres, keep my country kitchen clear of field mice, and stretch contentedly by the wood-burning stove to ward off the chill of early winter or the bluster of a sudden spring storm.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

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The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.