Except for those ten minutes cowering in the bathroom at 1:45 a.m., we’re having a swell time in Georgia.

Knockout rose, Georgia style

Except for a few moments last night, we’re enjoying our visit with Barry’s parents near Athens, Georgia.  To be exact, we’re staying in a locale called Watkinsville.  His folks moved to Georgia from northern Michigan (not the Upper Peninsula–the north part of the Lower Peninsula) maybe ten years ago.  His brother, Craig, lives nearby.

We arrived Tuesday night before midnight.  We spent most of yesterday talking, laughing, catching up.

Although we talk every week on the phone–sometimes twice a week–so we know what’s happening in each other’s lives.

Little guy with binoculars in front of roses

I wandered around outside the house with the camera, stooping to breathe in beautiful flower scents.  To marvel at the 80 degree weather.  To get re-aquainted with warm sunshine. 

And guess what!  They have cardinals– bright red cardinals–chirping sweetly from the trees in their yard. (I never have the camera nearby when a cardinal decides to serenade, darn it.  But there are still a couple of days to go to photograph the beauty.)

This little bear is called Barnaby. Hello, Barnaby.

Unknown to us, Wednesday would bring a string of tornadoes stretching 350 miles beginning early in the day with the devestation of Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, Alabama.  The TV began to ominously talk about severe thunderstorms and hail and tornadoes yesterday afternoon closer to us.  Truly, I didn’t pay much attention.  Since we don’t have a TV, my mind no longer focuses on that little black box except when a DVD entertains.  I hoped no one would be hurt by the storms. 

We popped in a DVD after dinner:  “The King’s Speech”.  It was quite good, most of us thought. 

Bedtime for me:  a little after 10 p.m.  Goodnight everyone!  It’s great to be in Georgia again.

Rhododendron (can you see the tiny red ant?)

I fell asleep.  Until—a LOUD alarm-like sound split through the bedroom.  It was the National Weather Service radio they have on for emergencies.  A fellow announced a tornado watch for surrounding areas.

Back to sleep.  Ahhh…..  Thirty minutes later the LOUD alarm sounded again.  Tornado warnings in surrounding counties.

Sigh.

Would it be possible to sleep again?

Kids in the front yard

Barry came to bed around midnight.  I lay wide-eyed staring at the ceiling, waiting for the next go-round of National Weather Service warnings.  Watching lightening etch against the night skies and thunder rumble in the distance. 

 About 1 a.m. The Warning came.  Oconee County under a Tornado Warning. 
 
“What do we do?” I asked Barry.
 
“Wake my parents,” he said.
 
OK, everybody, time to get up.  We don’t want to be sleeping tonight, do we?  And who knows where that tornado might be?  We traipsed to the living room and settled in front of the TV to ascertain the exact location of the tornadoes. 
 
They were south of us–sitting exactly upon Craig down in his house.  Barry suggested we call him and warn him.  We complied.  He was already in his basement, well protected.
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”

There is no basement in Barry’s parents home.  Our tornado-safe retreat was the bathroom.  We outfitted our shelter with towels, flashlights and other emergency gear.  Suddenly the TV said the word “Watkinsville” and “tornado”.  Barry’s mom and I hightailed it for the bathroom, followed by Barry.  (His dad swears he never heard the word “Watkinsville” and wondered what we were doing hovering in the bathroom.)

Fortunately, after ten minutes, Oconee County was declared tornado-free.  We returned to watching the devastation on TV.  This morning’s reports reveal that more than 150 tornadoes struck last night–perhaps an all-time recent record.  Between 178-231 people have died in the South from these storms, depending on which news report one listens.

It’s hard to fathom the devastation.  Our safe ten minutes in the bathroom and lack of sleep as the tornadoes veered east and north were nothing compared to what others experienced.  Houses and entire towns were flattened by whirling twisters.

Holding the victims in our hearts today as the South views the damage from the twisters and begins the slow painful work of mourning the dead, treating the injured and cleaning up.  Blessings to all.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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28 Responses to Except for those ten minutes cowering in the bathroom at 1:45 a.m., we’re having a swell time in Georgia.

  1. Such a contrast between the beauty of the gardens and the pending, then devastation of the tornadoes. Your trip has not been without excitement. Take care for the remainder.

  2. Susan Derozier says:

    Wow – What a trip this will be to remember….from beginning to end! I’m so glad you didn’t have the storm damage. Two weeks ago we had two go right over my condo and they did major damage directly to the side and behind our units. That and watching the news of those you describe leaves me with a very grateful heart. Neat pictures and so glad you pointed out the ant. Enjoy the sun and think calm skies with your warm hearts.

  3. Carol says:

    Love the pictures of the flowers and the bears, which are in an amazing contrast to your text, and to what I saw on news reports on TV last night. My husband is beginning to wonder if the Incas are so far off after all. I am so glad you are safe though and I will pray you continue to be.

  4. Brenda Hardie says:

    What a contrast between the beautiful, peaceful pictures you have posted and the shocking pictures of the damage brought by the tornadoes on the news channels. I much prefer your photos! The bear, Barney is adorable and the puppy has a perfect spot near those gorgeous roses! Treasure your time with your family. I am so happy you escaped the wrath of the storms.

  5. P.j. grath says:

    Going through a tornado is a terrible, life-changing experience. I’m glad your family is okay. I have an aunt over in Conyers, GA, not far from where you are. If you get near there, stop in at town hall and tell Aunt Diane that Pamela sends her love. But stay safe!!!

  6. Susan D says:

    I confess to really worrying about you and the family last night, not to mention all my other Southern friends. I find this devastation heartwrenching and disturbing. Prayers and thoughts continue to go up for all … hoping peaceful conditions will return and remain. Thank you for the gorgeous pictures and, once again, precious life.

  7. sonali says:

    It appears to me that the region where you live is such a risky place! snow storms, tornadoes. O God! It sounds very scary. Please stay safe. As I had a first glance thru’ the post, I found the pictures so lively, it was difficult to imagine the tornado & the disasters associated with it.

  8. holessence says:

    Kathy – I’m so glad that you are yours and well. A few minutes huddled in the bathroom in the middle of the night was well spent. Had it come your way, it could have saved your lives.

    Our friend, Sandi White (from Gaia, and a regular at Speaking from the Heart) lives in Canton, Georgia (Cherokee County). She checked in with me this morning because she knew I’d be worried. She’s okay.

    I hope that the rest of your visit is smooth sailing.

  9. I’m so glad you are all safe! We’ve been having a LOT of severe weather here, too, with torrential rain, hail and tornadoes. I hate them. Hate them, hate them, HATE THEM! We don’t have any safe rooms in the house, no closets, and no basement. No storm cellar either. Our “tornado shelter” is the dining table, pushed up against the wall 😛
    Your pictures are beautiful, and Barnaby absolutely adorable!

  10. Glad everyone was safe! I have family who live in Tuscaloosa, and they (as far as I know) are fine. I can only imagine the terror that everyone went through – I’ve seen a few amateur videos…. very scary!!

  11. Colleen says:

    I’ll admit to being a bit worried too! We’ve never lived in an area where they are more than a very rare occurance. Honestly, I can’t even imagine how that would be. We’re more in tune with the reality of earthquakes or tsunamis…..

    So glad all is well and that everyone is enjoying the visit.

  12. Sybil says:

    I hear they are having a record number of tornadoes. Climate change ?

    Glad you’re safe.

  13. OM says:

    Although there are many causes of this weather operating, on the physical and non-physical planes, a rash of solar flares can be directly linked to this weather. I get reports from Earth Changes Media.
    Glad to hear via you, Laurie, that Sandi is safe, and I am relieved and glad to hear YOU and your family are safe, Kathy!! What an adventure!!
    I used to live in Iowa, and have done the “storm-cellar” routine a few times.. I’ll take a hurricane any day. Though if I had to choose between a tornado and earthquake, I’m not sure what my choice would be haha. Out here, Nature has chosen earthquakes more often.
    Maybe I should get a National Weather Radio. Deb Yemm has mentioned how they have one on all the time, and lately with flood warnings, etc. Now if we could only make earthquakes more predictable. The best predictors are the animals, but I don’t have any!!!
    Hugs, OM

  14. Karma says:

    Mama Nature has surely been busy recently with erratic weather. I hope we haven’t angered her too much. Very happy to read that you and yours are safe, and my heart goes out to those dealing with the devastation.
    Your pictures are a soothing sight compared to what must be visible not too far from where you are. I hope you get your cardinal picture!

  15. flandrumhill says:

    Good grief Kathy. What an experience!

    In the 70s I was with my grandmother in another town when my mom and three of my siblings were in a house hit by a tornado. It was pretty bad. My mom took everyone down to the fruit cellar when she heard the firehall’s warning alarm.

    ‘A tornado by any other name would be as devastating.’

  16. emaclean says:

    See? Didn’t I mention tornadoes? I’ll bet that experience makes you wish to be back in the snow again! So glad you are all safe. More and more reports are coming in how people survived. It’s amazing. Hope the remainder of your trip is uneventful.

  17. Dawn says:

    Wow. I have family in Columbus GA and Valley AL…they’re all OK…glad you are OK too. But the heartbreak is huge. Overwhelming heartbreak.

  18. Jan says:

    I feel for those people that lost loved ones.
    And think about those who died.
    I am so glad you folks are okay!
    A 150 tornadoes!! Good grief, it must be horrible!
    Thank you for your post, Kathy and your very beautiful photographs
    of the flowers and Barnaby.
    Enjoy the weekend, the family and the warmer weather.

  19. Barbara Rodgers says:

    What a colorful, whimsical garden your in-laws have! Beautiful flowers…

    I’m glad you and your loved ones are safe and sound, Kathy. We were all shedding tears listening to the stories (on the news) of some of the survivors who had terrifying experiences, like a couple who were in their car when a tornado lifted them up in the air – made us think of “The Wizard of Oz.” The violence and randomness of tornado strikes is hard to fathom….

    Hope the rest of your visit is without incident!

  20. Kathy says:

    Thanks for all your good comments! We are getting ready to go to breakfast at a local restaurant and have a busy day coming up, so no time to thoughtfully respond with individual attention to all your comments. (You know how it is when you travel. Sometimes there’s barely time to post a blog, let alone write essays!) The weather here has been remarkably tame and beautiful since those ten minutes in the bathroom early Thursday morning. No snow either–temps in the upper 70’s and lower 80’s. Hope everyone is having a good weekend…

  21. Jessica says:

    I am glad you were all safe. My sister and family lives in Huntsville AL where they had six tornadoes that night. The tornadoes touched down north and south of them. They were all fine but were without power and phone service. We managed to get a rescue plan in order and so now my sister, niece and nephew are hanging out down here in FL for the week. My brother in law called yesterday to let her know the power finally came back on.

    On a more positive note, we have so many cardinals down here it is ridiculous. There are no less then 4 mated pairs I know of not counting all the bachelors that keep trying to sneak into the yard. Of course, the males that have set up territory are extremely busy driving off these upstarts. LOL

    Jessica

    • Kathy says:

      How wonderful that you and your family could provide “rescue service” to your sister’s family. What a gift you’ve given them! Glad they were safe, Jessica.

      Your cardinals sound like our robins–although this year our robins are kind of scarce (unlike the previous few years). Isn’t it interesting how the presence of many birds of one species kind of dulls the magic? I think cardinals are one of the most magic birds on the planet–but would probably change my mind if there were four mated pairs sharing the backyard. Wonder why familiarity makes things less magical? When it really could be the other way? Maybe it’s just the mind that thinks that…and if we’re really present with the cardinals or robins we’ll feel that magic again.

      • OM says:

        Regaining the magic just requires consciously, and in that instance, overriding the biological programming which says that anything familiar is not a threat and therefore does not need our attention. That programming serves a useful function, but obviously we have other goals than survival, haha!!

  22. Pingback: I’m dreaming of a green Christmas, just like the ones I’ve never known… « Lake Superior Spirit

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