Billie Silvey
Climate Change
Dr. Joe Friday
March 2007
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An eclectic website about Women, Christianity, History, Culture  
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Where Is God?
Weather
When I was growing up in the Panhandle of Texas--a flat, dry,
treeless expanse of land--my family didn’t have a lot.  We did
have a lot of sky, though--a huge dome stretching from horizon to
horizon in all directions-- and a great deal of weather.

People used to say that, if you didn’t like the weather in the
Panhandle, you should just wait a few minutes.  It would change.

Wind. The first weather I became aware of in our part of the state
was the wind.  My first memory of unusual weather, which was the
usual thing there, was one day when I was about five.  It was before
we moved to Happy, and I was staying at my Granny’s house
there.  The bedroom darkened, though it was the middle of the day,
and there was a strange glow in the air.  Looking out the window, I
couldn’t see anything but red.
It was a dust storm.  The ground in Happy was gray-brown.  The
nearest red earth was in Palo Duro Canyon or, beyond that, the Red
River dividing Texas from Oklahoma.

Strong winds were a constant.  Hot winds in summer blasted us with
sharp grains of sand or the sudden splatters of thundershowers.  Cold
winds in the winter stung us with frigid air or tiny crystals of snow.  
Folks in the Panhandle used to say that there was nothing separating
us from the North Pole but a barbed-wire fence.

Clouds. On summer afternoons as a child, I loved to watch great
banks of white, puffy clouds build into fantastic shapes against the
clear blue sky.  I couldn’t see them without imagining pictures in
the clouds--a giant face, an airplane, a rabbit.

On other days, the clouds would be thin and streaky, like someone
had pulled the cotton batting for a quilt too thin and it was stringing
and tearing apart.

Other times, the clouds were mottled like fish scales.

Storms. In such a dry climate, we didn’t get a lot of rain, but
when it came, it, too, tended to be dramatic.  We’d be riding
down the highway, and all around us, we’d see long, slanted
streaks of rain from dark clouds lit by sudden flashes of lightning and
cracked by loud bursts of thunder.

Sometimes the clouds would turn a heavy green-grey, and hail would
batter the ground.  That was when we hurried inside, because small
pieces of ice jumping in the grass could suddenly grow to the size of
hen’s eggs or baseballs, able to do real damage if they hit us or
dent the car if we were on the road.

Other times, the clouds would grow bumpy on their undersides.  
These bumps could quickly grow to longer extensions which,
whipped by the winds, could lengthen into dust devils hopping across
the plain, or even into devastating tornadoes.  I heard stories of straw
forced into fence posts and houses turned to splinters.  Once, when a
tornado struck a faraway town, we found a report card in our yard
belonging to a child there.  It had been picked up by the tornado and
carried in the clouds.

Blizzards. Most winters, we didn’t get snow, but occasionally,
dry snow driven by strong winds would build up in tall drifts that
stretched from the roof of our house to the eaves of the neighborâ
€™s across the street.  Then the town would grind to a halt, and
school would let out because roads were totally impassable.  At least
one morning, I remember my dad climbing out a window to blaze a
trail to the storage shed to get a shovel so he could clear the tall drifts
against our screendoors that made it impossible to open them.

Cattle would die huddled along barbed-wire fences that were
invisible under the snow.

In this website, we’ll be considering
climate change, conducting
an interview with a
meteorologist, and wondering where God is in the
storms of life.

I’d love to get your reaction to this website, as well as your
memories of weather in various parts of the world.  Just email me at
b.
silvey@sbcglobal.net.