As I write these few words, the sky is looking browner than I remember it ever looking … ever.
I’ll admit I’ve lived in the Texas Panhandle a mere 19 years and four months. My history here isn’t as long as many folks’ time on the High Plains. My wife and I do have enough of an institutional memory, though, to call ourselves fairly experienced in this region’s sometimes-strange weather.
Today it’s about as “strange” as it’s gotten during our time here.
The wind is blowing at a sustained 30 mph. It’s gusting to around 60 mph.
I sat this morning waiting for a friend to show up for a cup of coffee. I sat at a coffee shop literally at the edge of the city. The wind started to kick up and as I looked toward the southwest, across a large stretch of pasture, I watched the dirt begin to billow into the sky.
Then it rolled in atop us at the coffee shop.
And then — all at once — about a dozen cell phones began buzzing “storm alert” warnings … mine included. A collective laugh went up from the room. “No kidding. Dust storm? Who knew?” one woman muttered.
I won’t pretend to know what the Dust Bowl was like. I’ve read about, heard stories about it, seen documentary films about it. The pictures are hideous. The stories of suffering, hardship and death are even more so.
Still, the weather today is beginning to look a lot like those pictures.
When is this going to end?