Monday, April 28, 2014

Beautiful But Deadly

Ordinarily, I would use the photo on the left to illustrate a scene that I might consider darkly pastoral, and perhaps, even beautiful. This picture however, is much more than that. If you look into the distance at its center you can see a tornado, which only moments later, destroyed the River Plantation housing division southwest of the central Arkansas town of Mayflower. The photo was sent to KATV 7 News in Little Rock by an anonymous photographer.The event occurred a little before sunset on Sunday, April 27.

Shortly after the storm destroyed the housing division, it continued into Mayflower and later, the town of Vilonia, bringing almost total devastation to both. Currently, the death toll from the storm stands at 16, but the count could easily rise as rescue workers continue searching for victims.

A friend and active participant in our local Gothic community missed being caught up in all the devastation by only a few minutes as he was traveling back toward Little Rock on I-40. He explained his experience this way:

"... it was about half a mile ahead of me on the freeway... There were blankets in rather odd places in smashed cars, demolished buildings and cars. I didn't take pictures of out of respect."

He did however, manage to get a couple of photos of the general devastation from his vantage point inside his vehicle. With his permission, I'm providing a couple of photos that he took while passing through the devastation

Although it was somewhat dark, you can see what appears to be a large truck that overturned while the tornado rolled along the interstate.

This photo gives the viewer a better idea as to the extent of the destruction.

To be quite honest, I'm relieved to know that this valued member of our local Gothic community was slightly behind the storm. Still, countless others were were not so fortunate. Many were hospitalized and upon release, will likely return to a community in which the home they once knew no longer exists.

The storms are moving eastward and this afternoon, Tupelo, Mississippi fell victim to a tornado described as being a mile wide. According to The Weather Channel, that city has been put under a state of emergency. There are yet other communities lying in the projected paths of these dangerous storms.

A thunderstorm hit here on East Mountain a little after 10:00 pm last night. I lit a couple of candles, turned the light off and stared into the night that existed just outside my screen door. I watched the flashes of lightning and listened to the rolling of thunder. I could hear the sound of hail as it slammed upon the leafy trees, the honeysuckle and even the glassy windows. For a short while the rain came down in torrents.

 Looking out the door from my candle-lit cottage, I had a sense of gratitude for the dark beauty that a thunderstorm flashing away in the night offered me. At the same time though, I had been reminded that these storms--so capable of capturing the human imagination, can turn deadly almost on a moment's notice. It's an interesting proposition indeed!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Blustery Day

A storm blew in over East Mountain late this morning. As far as storms go, it wasn't very large or particularly menacing. Still, it was a thundershower  powerful enough to change a somewhat sunny but cool spring morning into something different--something darker and more Gothic.

Mr. Gray (cemetery cat) must have known it was coming because I found him waiting by the front door when I got home. Perhaps he noticed the dark clouds descending upon us rapidly from the northwest, or he may have heard the rumblings of thunder in the distance. Either way, he seemed quite anxious to get inside and his instincts were right on. The rain began to come down just seconds after I took off my jacket. I listened to the sound of the raindrops hitting the windows and soaking the ground.  The thunder rumbled as the sky continued to darken.

Suddenly a brisk wind began to blow. Large trees swayed while the gusts picked up dead leaves and spring's early blooms, tossing them across the landscape. The heat emanating from the wood stove felt warm and welcoming as it provided ample protection from the elements.The storm exited the area after only about five minutes. Still, the wind continued and for awhile at least, the sky remained cloudy.

I wanted to take in the darkness and the wind--the feel of the moment. So, I took a walk in the woods, as I enjoy doing on blustery days, and visited some of the abandoned burial grounds.

This is the Wilson Family Monument. It towers over several small grave markers that are placed around. There is a city park here that's named after a prominent member of this family. I believe that he was one of the community's earliest merchants.

These two grave markers lie a bit farther into the woods. The tall stone belongs to T.J. Walker. The other bears no inscription. At one time these plots were surrounded by an extensive stretch of thick wire fencing, which now lies upon the ground. The burial place of Sally, which I featured and spoke about roughly a year ago,
lies off to the right a bit.

I call this guy the Guardian to the North. He loves to ride on the wind; his black robe trailing behind him as he soars on each gust. Although he inhabits a fairly shady area, the early morning sun has, over time, compromised the darkness of his robe.