BY JAN STADTHERR
Mother Nature must not have liked my May column. I wrote about winter stretching into mid-April and how the heavy wet snow and slush made traveling on our gravel township road nearly impossible. The weather caused trees to fall on powerlines, causing power outages.
Probably the only benefit of the long winter was that the added moisture was needed for the soil due to the drought we had a year ago.
Well, Mother Nature got even for what I said. And it all happened in the month of May.
Three friends and I, who are members of TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), went to the state convention held in St. Cloud in mid-May where we stayed in a hotel for two nights. After having supper, we decided to go to a Costco to pick up a few items. Central Minnesota was in a tornado watch but that wasn’t stopping four women from shopping! Nancy decided to stay in the car as her leg was bothering her. We told her we wouldn’t be long; however, the layout of the store was completely opposite from the store we frequented in Baxter. We laughed as we steered the cart up and down the wide aisles in search of what we needed.
Suddenly our cell phones (and everyone else’s in the store) began to sound a loud alert. I thought it was an amber alert, but we were actually in a tornado warning.
We decided to pay for our purchases and head for the car and get back to the hotel. We headed for the exit but were stopped. No one was allowed to leave. Strong winds and sheets of rain pounded the pavement. All the customers were instructed to go to the center of the store. Several employees led the herd of shoppers to a convenient location – the furniture department. Customers lounged on the couches and chairs. To pass the time, strangers conversed with each other and it seemed no one was worried about the weather outside. It was like it happened every day.
Thirty minutes went by and we were finally allowed to leave. It was still raining outside and one of the purchases made in our cart was a box of large clear trash bags. One of the gals suggested we put them over ourselves. We grabbed the bags, pulled them down over our bodies and poked a large hole in the plastic for our faces. We laughed so hard! I thought I might wet my pants. A sales clerk took pictures of us crazy women and a young man stopped and asked me where we got them. I jokingly told him he could have one for a buck. He quickly walked away. We made it safely to the car and the hotel dressed in our see-through rain gear. We got some strange looks when entering the hotel. We laughed about the episode for the remainder of the evening. Glasses of wine helped.
I’ve only seen one tornado and that was in the early 80s. I was driving home after teaching vacation bible school with two kids in the back seat. I saw a funnel cloud in the distance. My heart jumped up and my foot sunk down on the gas pedal and I sped down the gravel road with a cloud of dust behind me. The announcer on the radio said we were in a tornado warning. The kids didn’t hear the announcer and I didn’t tell them why I was speeding. But we had nothing to fear as the funnel was going in another direction.
Besides remembering the service men and women who served our country, Memorial Day will be remembered for the 15 tornadoes that were confirmed in Minnesota this year. We were in a tornado watch. Sudden strong winds for about 20 minutes had me going to every window to watch the skies as the large majestic oak and maple trees swayed wider than usual. Mother Nature was not being kind to us. Our power went out at 6:15 in the evening and returned 15 hours later. Unfortunately, many people in our area had no power for several days.
I will not say any thing negative about Mother Nature again as I’ve learned my lesson... but then what will I talk about?