Winds and tornados – a Windy City and a Windy State

November 19, 2013
‘Twas windy in Kansas
last weekend. I enjoyed it, oblivious that back in Chicago, from where I traveled for this sojourn, there were damaging winds and tornado warnings.

Saturday morning I went to the Lawrence Farmer’s Market. The wind swept up dried leaves as I walked there, and it  felt invigorating. Yet farmers and other vendors expressed difficulty keeping items intact on their tables. When I left, I walked via  Mass Street — the term of endearment for Massachusetts Street, the downtown Lawrence main street. At times the wind gusted so strongly it seemed my feet might be lifted from the pavement.

And I was reminded of six-point corners back in Chicago; these were points where not two, yet three wide streets crossed between tall buildings at every corner. Not oft, more precisely once in a blue moon, Chicago winds blew so strong that some six-point corners turned into wind tunnels — whirl-winding so strong that while trying to cross the streets I felt I might be lifted high into the air. So that I stepped hard, and pointed my body forward and hugged arms to my side to prevent the wind from gusting me away.

I talked about those six-point corners on Sunday, oblivious that tornadoes were developing in Illinois. Now I sat in the Runaway Pony B&B backyard, with owner Serina Hearn, two of her tenants, Witold [pronounced VEE-told] and Tom, both from the Netherlands, and Serina’s best friend Linda.

We moved to a backyard table, after a delicious breakfast inside, slurped coffee and swapped stories of love and sports. The wind blew hard around us, and we needed to raise our voices. Occasional moments a branch broke from a tree and hit hard against a trash can, or hit hard on the porch. Sometimes it crashed a branch followed by blowing twigs and leaves hard at us and we covered our coffee mugs and at times covered our heads.

After one time the wind let up I shared the story of the Windy City six-point corner wind tunnels and how this weekend wind reminded me of them. Another moment the wind crashed something again, blew hard as I covered my eyes, and slipped a twig into Witold’s coffee even though he’d reached to shield it. He plucked it out. Linda shared that Kansas was named after an Indian tribe whose name celebrated “People of the south wind.”

Crazy, I thought, that I knew the Windy City was not so named for the climate yet named after men who bragged about Chicago as an contender for the 1893 World’s Fair. And here I was in a windy place named for People of the Wind.

Yet I did not have chance to elaborate. Morning broke to afternoon and we all had things to do. I had to get to writing; the fellas had cavorting plans, and Linda intended to help Serina bring in geraniums she had bought at a market.

The wind gusted as we separated to our tasks. The sun shone; temperatures touched 70 Fahrenheit. While up in Illinois and areas of Chicago the winds brought devastation, that I heard about via Facebook pals and online news. It seems we were connected via the same storm, that delivered different extremes. My heart goes out to the tornado victims.

— For more information on the storms that hit Illinois last weekend, visit here.
— For more information regarding The Runaway Pony Bed and Breakfast in Lawrence, where I’ve been sojourning, visit here.

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