One thing you don’t want to bring with you to a wildland fire-fighting contract is vicious weather. Regardless of my agenda (saving the state of Arkansas from imminent danger), Mother Nature had plans of her own.
In the wee hours following my arrival, The Weather Channel reminds me that the Southeast brews some wild weather. Clips of tornados wreaking havoc on downtown Atlanta loop incessantly, emphasizing the imminent wrath. Tall, solid, block-letters forming the words “STORM WATCH” periodically fill the screen. No wonder I can’t sleep.
Warnings of flash floods turn into the probability of general flooding. Tornado watches turn to warnings. Severe thunderstorms promise hail stones exceeding one inch. Dogs and cats . . . Oops, wrong show. Our safety and the security of our aircraft become the primary concern; fighting fire will not transpire anytime soon.
It occurred to me—in one of those revolutionary moments—that, no matter what came this way, there was nothing we could do about it. If a tornado were to rip off the roof of my corner-unit condo or destroy our equipment or sacrifice any one of us to Oz, we were virtually helpless. Mother Nature was in no mood to negotiate, as demonstrated—a few hours earlier—in Atlanta.
During one of the heavier downpours, I stood outside under the protection of an overhang. The power of the storm was fierce; its stamina impressive. It had already pummeled several states; and according to the Weather Channel, we weren’t the last. Several inches of rain would eventually fall locally, and up to a foot just north. Fortunately, tornados spared Hot Springs, and the storm passed.
Humbled by her puissance, I patiently utilize the idle time. Perhaps the nature of things will afford some work. That, of course, will require several dry, warm, and—preferably—windy days.
Just as my optimism rises enough to meet the surface tension of the puddle below, something catches my attention. I hear a murmur from the TV in the other room, “And Sunday . . . expect a chance of rain.” Oh! Say it isn’t so.