The Barnometer

As spring rolls on towards summer, the weather conditions can sometimes turn quite ugly. I love a good thunderstorm, one where you can smell the rain coming across the horizon. Sitting out on the porch, one can watch the thunderheads build, then the lightning begins to flash in the bottom of the clouds and the thunder begins to roll through the air. Eventually a nice breeze begins and beckons in the cleansing, life-giving rain.

However, in many parts of the country, those gentle summer thunderstorms can take on a whole different persona. They become angry and spiteful, and can conjure up quite a few menacing weather conditions…the most severe of which is the deadly tornado.

Growing up in the Midwest, I have had plenty of experiences involving tornados. I would always become irritated when one of my favorite television shows would constantly be interrupted with “weather bulletins”. I could never really understand why the rolling script at the bottom of the screen was never sufficient. However, those interruptions became a normal part of summer life in Iowa. Sometimes we were warned to take shelter because a tornado touchdown had been confirmed very near to us. My parents would round up a radio and some blankets, and we would all head down into the basement to wait out the storm. On one of these occasions, the warning became reality. Our little town was hit by the gruesome funnel. Luckily, our house was spared but there was damage all over town. Thankfully no one was hurt badly or killed.

Some people are so intrigued by tornados that they actually seek them out to watch and film them. An entire movie was even written about such “tornado chasers”. I know that while a tornado was passing through my workplace, and we were all supposed to be hidden away in storm shelters, several people stayed out where they could watch the storm through the windows. It is amazing that even in the face of such danger, some folks let their curiosity overcome them.

My mother would tell me about when she was a young girl and storms would roll through the countryside near their farm. She and her siblings would watch those storms from their front porch. My grandfather warned them that if they saw anything happen to the barn, they needed to run into the house for cover. Now, that was probably not extremely sage advice because the barn was less than a football field away from the house. Luckily they never had to test out the “barnometer theory”.

For me, that story tells me how much of a landmark the barns were. In many places, the barn was the only farmyard structure in addition to the house. Those barns might even have been built sturdier than many homes. Imagine, many of them are still standing in spite of all the horrific weather conditions they have withstood throughout the years. If you are contemplating the addition of reclaimed barnwood furniture in your home, consider that durability. That new bed or living room sofa might become the barnometer of your home. That wood has certainly withstood the test of time, but thankfully it will no longer need to forecast how bad the weather conditions are outside. Leave that to your local weatherman.  And please, take cover when the weather takes a turn for the worst!

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