My mind’s been on storms lately. Living in Arkansas — especially during this time of year — will do that to a person, make them think about tornadoes, hail and obnoxiously loud thunderstorms.
Before moving to Crawford County I lived for seven months in an area that doesn’t get a lot of tornadoes. No, the big natural disaster threat in Los Alamos, N.M., came in the form of wildfires.
Well, that and somebody mishandling some of the weapons grade plutonium across the bridge at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
But tornadoes? No.
So after moving back to Arkansas it didn’t take me long to get reacquainted with the hair-raising tones of an emergency siren.
It was November — just two months after settling into my place in Van Buren — when a tornado bounced over me near Northridge Middle School.
I came out unscathed. Others weren’t so lucky.
Earlier this week the month of April closed with some of my friends in Bergman (just north of Harrison) capturing video of a tornado prowling within a milk cow throw of Bergman High School. Other friends in the Lead Hill (farther north) weren’t so lucky. Portions of that school were hit, as well as some houses in the area.
Thankfully there were no fatalities.
Now it’s time for the days after, the days of cleanup, the days of departed storm clouds and worry that the mattress you’re hiding under isn’t going to do the job.
When there are no fatalities the aftermath may be easier to face. Homes can be rebuilt but lost lives cannot.
It’s a chance to come out of the rubble and shine anew. A fresh start after the storm.
In a way it’s like the new days of spring. Flowers are planted and burst into bloom, the spring songs of the birds seem a little more upbeat, the temperatures warm and people start moving around outside more, as if they were out shaking off the winter’s darkness.
Moving from the dark into the light.
I couldn’t help but feel that way Thursday. I started the day at the National Day of Prayer observance on the lawn of the Crawford County Courthouse. The words spoken lifted my spirits, just as the prayers were lifted to God. It was nice to pause by the fountain and take in the beauty of the plants and flowers that adorn the courthouse grounds.
From there I ventured up the street a ways in search of a story about a new restaurant that is opening next week. The Vault is a grill that is rising as a remodel out of a building that has graced Main Street for longer than any of us have been alive.
Out of the old surroundings comes forth a new, vibrant opportunity.
As I left The Vault I noticed Josh Baker, who owns JB Lawn and Landscapes, Inc., and a couple of his employees filling hanging baskets and large pots along Main Street with new, vibrant-colored plants. He and his troops will plant, water and nurture the little beauties (for our enjoyment) in such a way that soon the historic street and its old buildings will be complemented with rich colors.
And once again a refreshing splash of beauty will bring us out of the gloom, out of the dark clouds.
Spring has sprung. And even though here in Arkansas we’re never free of the threat of tornadoes and bad weather, we know they don’t last for long.
And we know there’s a better day on the other side.