The Windstorm

Windstorms and tornadoes pluck us from our daily lives, removing the cares and concerns of living with the desperate need to survive. They leave us rattled, but surrounded by a land bursting with color. These winds use their powers to send us on missions, going where the wind blows us, traveling as our intuition and chance guide us.

On May 22, 2008, we drove ourselves and two key employees from Steamboat Springs to Fort Collins, Colorado, a small city on the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. To avoid the late spring storms that can close Cameron Pass, our journey took us north to Laramie, Wyoming before diving back down US-287. As we looked across the plains from our high mountain route, I commented that the clouds appeared to be gathering as if in preparation for a tornado. And then we all laughed because we’d been living in that high country, where the spiky tips of mountain ridges protected us from such wild weather.

The rain started as we got closer to Fort Collins, pounding across the roof and obscuring our vision until all of the cars on the highway just stopped. Hail popped across the windshield as wind whipped it sideways. The four of us huddled until the storm eased and the sun appeared.

Oh, that wild spring weather of Colorado, we joked as we stopped at the first diner we saw. Wait five minutes and it will change!

Most of the tables were empty in the quiet hour between 11 and noon. The majority of people continued their drive into Fort Collins, where choices were more numerous, but the storm had rattled us enough for a respite to be necessary.

The waitresses gathered in front of the television, watching the news, and that was how we discovered we’d been stopped by the edge of a storm surrounding a tornado that destroyed thirty-nine miles of the countryside around Windsor, Colorado, just a few minutes away.

As we continued our drive, the rain-washed countryside seemed to glow.

The greens were more green.

Browns more brown.

The sturdy petals of blooming shrubs and trees glistened with their recent wash.

That was the day we sold our first business, SpringSips. We’d run the internet service provider for a decade and had lost the passion for the work a couple of years before. Now, we were free to do whatever we wished. As we drove home, I felt like a balloon zipping through the air, all of the stress and excitement draining out of my body as it deflated and dropped to the ground.

On Friday, our realtor showed up to sign the papers to list our house as a windstorm whipped its way across our area. The rain was barely able to hit the ground, landing in sprinkles as the strong gusts shattered the drops into mist. She walked through the house and took pictures before I unlocked the door to release her while simultaneously trying to keep as much rain outside as I could. Soon after she left, the wind gusted to push the now-bolted door in like a cartoon. We’d installed a deadbolt at the top of the door and I pushed it shut to protect us.

The electricity clicked three times and the house went dark.

I started a fire and Stephanie and I talked about the future. About this choice to sell the house, where we would go, what we would do. How my business would change. How we were about to experience another metamorphosis.

The power came back on before the light faded completely, and the colorful petals on the trees and bushes of our neighborhood seemed to glow in the gray light.

The next morning, the sun highlighted the green grass, red mud, and blue sky. A tree, still covered with white blossoms, laid across the entrance to our little subdivision. A passing dogwalker commented that we couldn’t tell when it would be moved out of the street if it was up to the homeowner. After all, they’d had a broken toilet in their yard for an entire year.

Something about this latest move feels bigger than it should. The windstorm coinciding with our action to put the house on the market brought back the memory of that wild ride on that Colorado morning fifteen years ago. Though I feel like I’m still a full balloon, waiting for the hand that holds my aperture closed to release and send me zipping through the air until I drop, deflated, wherever the wind decides to leave me.