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Of Turtles And Tornadoes- Sitting In The Path Of An EF4

May 27, 2011

No animal was harmed in the making of this picture, much to the chagrin of my cat whose instincts
were on fire. I escorted the turtle off the premises and into safety toward the nearby river.

I happen to live in the path of the tornadoes that tore through parts of Oklahoma on May 24th. And it happened to be one that took at least 10 lives.

And while Oklahomans are familiar with tornadoes- last Tuesday brought new respect to the sheer destructive power of a tornado. It’s been a while that even tornado experienced Oklahomans had to deal with such a violent series of tornadoes grouped together that closely.

It was an uneasy afternoon, following days of hefty rainfall, each thunderstorm growing more powerful than the previous one, hail the size of golf balls and grapefruits in some parts. We had followed the forecasts, I had our shelter stocked with food, shoes and the very few material possessions I consider irreplaceable.

And then the sirens went off.
I have heard the very same sirens every Saturday, noontime, every week. Being tested.
But how eerie to hear the sirens on a day that is not a Saturday, not a test.

I gathered child and pets, getting into our shelter. Huge thunder bolts coming down literally in front of us, dark skies, debris flying around- the thunder storm alone could have inspired Joseph Haydn to write a symphony, a mighty oratorio.

We sat in our shelter, listening to the howling, we felt the rest of the house shaking above us from the thunderstorms alone. Checking on the path of a tornado that formed 2 streets over from my house. Lights flickered, sporadic internet connection. Singing to my son, counting cheerios and imaginary sheep to a sleepy child, while trying to listen to the emergency radio announcements, comparing the audible news to the tiny map on my blackberry.

And then the tornado changed it’s path, took a left, away from us. We were three minutes away from being hit by tornado number 2, the most devastating one of that day.

Today, on Friday, my son woke me by throwing a stuffed animal at me- a turtle. He calls it Mami’s turtle.
My mother bought this stuffed animals many years ago when she was pregnant with me.
I did the same for my son, waddling through an Ikea, picking up a stuffed animal in the shape of a turtle.

our respective turtles

And then I wept. For the pregnant woman and her husband a few short miles from me in Piedmont who lost 2 sons during the same tornado that suddenly changed course and took their children.

I cried, hugged my little one, thankful that he can throw stuffed animals at me.

While I wept into my cup of coffee, I walked by a window, looking away and looking back.
What did I see crawling through the lawn? A turtle.

A turtle, in China and Japan revered as the totem of protection, longevity- and motherhood.

Native American Indians revere the turtle as the immortal mother who is determined to quietly and silently carry the heavy burden of humankind upon her thick shell.

I am surrounded by many Native American Indian tribes in these lands. I often stand at a traffic light, glancing over, to discover another license plate. Each tribe has their own license plate.

And so I asked my son if he wanted see a real turtle.
The real, living and breathing symbol of protection, longevity and creation that was slowly pushing itself through the grass.

I grabbed the camera, admired the turtle and we gave thanks to Gaia herself.

Never again will I look at a turtle the with the same eyes.

Egyptian goddess meets Indian mother

_________________________________________________________________

Sending peace and a prayer to the victims of the tornado series of 5/24/2011.

•Miranda Nycole Bishard, 16, of Helena

•Austin Hall, 22, of Enid

•Terry Peoples, 50, of Woodward

•Don Wesley Krug, 71, of Hooker

•Joan Krug, 67, of Hooker

•Sharon Dodd, 58, of Cashion

•Billy Leeper, 64, of Cashion

•Ryan Hamil, 3, of Piedmont

•Cole Hamil, 15 months, of Piedmont

•Laron Short, 24, of Chickasha

The Hamil family not only lost 2 children, with a third one still being in critical condition- they also lost their home.

Please consider a donation.
-Donation link here!
Thank you.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Elmira permalink
    August 30, 2011 3:36 am

    Irina,

    At that moment I only saw the turtle comment on Facebook, no notification from your blog. That was terrible, those tornadoes and the families struck by them. I’m glad that you and your family are okay and that your very cute son can throw stuffed turtles at you. That turtle in your garden must have been a sign that you are being protected from harm.

    Love and blessings to you!
    Elmira

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