Dr. Freud: Zo. Tell me more about zis dream of yourss. Zair is tornado, ja?
Me: Ja. I mean, yes. Always a tornado. And I’m running and yelling for everyone to take cover. What does it mean?
Dr. Freud: Vell, it cood be von of two tingss. Virst, you have urgess to be zuperhero, ja? Und you vant to zave ze vorld.
Me: Really? You think so?
Dr. Freud: Vell, ze udder ting iss alzo pozzibble.
Me: Vat’s dat? … um, go on?
Dr. Freud: Zimple. You vatch var too much of ze TV, ja? Perhapss, ze Vizard of Ozz?
Me: That’s it!
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The good doctor is actually right on both counts, I think. My recurring tornado dreams in which I must get everyone to safety are surely based on two childhood experiences. One is my love for Mighty Mouse.
The other is the fascination I have for stormy weather which in turn was born of annual televised screenings of The Wizard of Oz.
At the risk of sounding like a simplistic old fart: they don’t make thunderstorms like they used to. I don’t know if it is faulty memory (never!) or a function of climate and/or atmospheric changes or what. But the storms that darkened the skies of my girlhood were apocalyptic in scope. Black as death and twice as ominous. Truly. I have yet to see a sky turn as terrifyingly pitch as it did when I was a girl.
As a very small girl I was afraid if a storm woke me at night. Mom calmed me by explaining about the angels bowling. Cute, eh? As I grew older, I got used to storms and looked forward to summer. I loved to watch the clouds roil and hear the thunder rumble. I learned how far away the storm was based on the one-Mississippi’s between the flash and the ka-boom. I’ve always lived in Ontario’s Tornado Alley, so we had plenty of opportunity for at least one or two good performances a season.
My family knows me as a Weather Network junkie. And I suppose the moniker is apt. It’s not really a thunder-storm until I have confirmed it with the radar image. That’s the way it works, right?
One summer, when I lived in London a storm rolled in around 8:30 at night. The warnings were dire. Heavy rain and winds, dangerous lightning, hail, the threat of a tornado (ooh!). The sky darkened. The wind picked up a notch. One or two thunderclaps and a smattering of rain.
And it was over.
“That’s it?” I said.
Apparently it was.
There I was, all set for a light show. Well, it was light alright. Thunderstorm Lite.™
But wait! There’s more! A second band on the radar showed the next round would hit our town in about an hour.
By this time, the sun had set, so I didn’t get to enjoy the drama of the advancing storm clouds. But the lightning and thunder compensated for that. It sounded like a good ‘un.
And then it just fizzled out. Passed overhead without a drop of rain.
“That’s all you got?” I mocked the heavens. “You call that a storm?”
Yeah, shouldn’t have done that.
The third and final wave of thunderstorms rolled in around eleven. Non-stop lightning, non-stop roar of pelting rain and hail, dozens of explosive thunderclaps directly overhead. At one point the hair stood up on the back of my neck. I dove to the floor, covered my head, and shrieked like a banshee. The simultaneous flare of lightning and blast of thunder drowned out my wailing.
So much for the superhero theory, I guess.
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