We're Rattled but Okay, thanks

[AP photo by Dave Martin]

My phone's been ringing this morning, and we've had a deluge of "are you okay?" email -- so here I am, to say we're okay, we really are, and there were no serious injuries reported last night as storms ripped through downtown Atlanta, uprooting trees (here, in the City of Trees), blowing a hole in the Georgia Dome (where thousands were watching college basketball playoffs -- Alabama vs Mississippi!), shattering skyscraper windows and sucking furniture out of hotel rooms, overturning cars parked on the street, collapsing at least one building in Cabbagetown, and scaring the pants off everybody in the Atlanta area.

My husband, Jim, had an early-evening gig downtown, playing piano at the Commerce Club, for a convention of dentists. This morning those dentists can't get into the Georgia World Congress Center -- it's closed. (The AP photo at left was taken at the World Congress Center by Phil Coale. Teachers, this is where IRA meets in six weeks!)

Jim had just driven out of the city as the rain that had been falling all day turned into a downpour and the wind began to howl. He got home in time to have birthday cake with us, to celebrate son Zach's 26th birthday.

Zach works at Thrive, a trendy downtown restaurant located near the CNN Tower. He was off yesterday, but a friend called him from work, seconds before the windows blew in the restaurant, to say, "Hey, Dude! It's a tornado!" and the phone went dead. A half-hour later, Zach managed to get back in touch. A tornado hasn't been verified, but the winds were clocked at 60 mph, and there are tons of stories to be told today. We're expecting more storms this afternoon: stay tuned. The morning sun has already given way to grayness, and the birds are seeking shelter.

But what a glorious, sunny morning it was!
Everything was wet and shining in the sun, everything looked washed -- my Aunt Mitt used to say to me, "Don't you love a good, hard rain? Afterward, it smells like God has washed the earth -- just smell that dirt!" And she'd take a long deep breath. Then, so would I. We'd stand at the end of her sidewalk after a rain, taking in the smells of the soaked orange, pebbly Mississippi dirt that was her driveway.

We have needed rain for such a long time, here in Atlanta, and March has been blessedly wet. We still have a long way to go here, to stem our drought. March is our wettest month, and always, storms in Atlanta are spectacular, but whoa... such a roar last night. When the second set of storms rolled in at 1 am, I got up to watch and wait. At dawn I heard Cleebo wailing outside, home from a three-day walkabout. And this morning, the world is wet.

I have long wanted to write something about weather. We are fascinated by it. We depend on it. We live by it, even though we have found ways to skirt around it -- we air condition and heat our homes, we build shelters and get out of the rain, we talk about how hot it was yesterday or what cold front is moving in, we want to see photos of devastation, we are just plain fascinated with weather. So.

How would you write about weather? Give me some ideas. Where is my notebook? Weather, that's your assignment. John Ruskin said, " Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather." Do you agree? Or do you think like Carl Reiner: "A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water."

I agree with Carl. And I love the words of Langston Hughes -- I leave you in his good company:

"Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby."

We're okay today, rocked in the cradle of the storm. You?