As we sit foolishly on our deck chairs waiting for a tornado to sweep us away, we fear our Japanese neighbor with the tent hasn’t understood what the park ranger told him until he starts to unwind a hank of heavy twine to reinforce his tie downs. His tent is held in place by feeble looking orange string looped around the shin high perimeter fence. He needs to tie down his big dog and himself. Will the tent hold up to the ferocity of a tornado? I think not, but I doubt our trailer will either.
It’s thundering now. The sun has gone. The patch of blue sky has drifted past and closed up. In its place are gouges of black. A sooty grey has replaced the fluffy white band of cloud. Thunder rumbles on and on like a case of bad indigestion.
The ocean is lapping calmly at the shore no more than eight strides from where we sit but with the disappearance of the sun the water has turned a murky menacing color. By contrast, the ocean on the distant horizon beneath the threatening slate clouds is a striking turquoise, lightening to a pale aqua as it reaches some shallows. Peaceful colors. Sinister colors. Mixed messages. What should we make of all that?
The wind speed has notched up and air cooled down, raising goose bumps on my clammy skin. A black fist of cloud has thrust across in front of us. The thunder, though not loud is more insistent. A pelican has coasted to a halt and settled on the water to keep his eye on us. Has no one told him to go home and batten down the hatches?
We watched and waited. We walked to the camp showers and came back and waited. A few spits of rain sent us scuttling inside the trailer, where we’d at least be dry for a bit if not safe, and we ate lunch and waited.
Three squalls came through in quick succession, each time closing the visibility at sea to zero, pummeling the roof for a few minutes, buffeting our trailer and then rolling the rain curtain benignly away under a black squall line.
It’s all over now. Nothing much happened. The storm didn’t even clear the air of humidity.
Our neighbor from Tokyo, we discovered later, had a slightly more memorable experience. In his preparations with the twine, he had secured his tent on the windward side. The storm and wind veered from the opposite direction. While we had been munching happily on tuna fish sandwiches and potato chips, he spent a whole hour dangling from the overhead struts of his tent, suspended beneath it like a marionette on a string, in an effort to stop it taking off to Oz.
His dog Tinta, however, slept through it all.