Duane looked through the window anxiously. Trees were still bending under force of cyclonic gusts while pieces of corrugated roofing were peeling off occasionally joining sundry other flying objects on their path of destruction. His eyes opened wide in surprise as they followed the direction of a crashing sound and he saw one object imbed itself deep into the spreading fig tree now almost stripped of foliage.
Birds were being swept around in the swirling winds desperate to avoid those flying objects. Their plaintive cries added to the urgency of the situation as he squinted through water smashing on the window pane. Some birds had made it to safety of home eaves and were hanging on grimly to any protrusion pecking fearfully at other birds trying to crowd in lest they be swept away by gusting winds.
Despite shrieking winds Duane imagined he heard frightened cries of animals led into the big barn for safety by his father. He knew they were not all there. Out there in distant paddocks nestling between hills of their property he could imagine the herd huddling together trying to use big trees in wooded areas as a buffer against wind and rain.
There would be no milking today. Their cattle dogs were hunkered down with barn animals ever watchful as Duane’s Dad Allan moved among the animals in the barn to try and keep them calm. Duane knew wind whistling through rafters would be unsettling them and now and then a bail of hay would be broken from moorings to sail through the air from upstairs storage and smash down on top of huddled animals causing bellows of fear and pain. Duane felt fear in his chest too as he thought of the peril his father would be in among those frightened animals. What if they should trample him in their fear?
Duane’s Mom Josephine, his Dad called her Jo as his pet name, sat serenely in the family room sewing. She and Allan had been raised in farming communities and the property they were on had originally belonged to Allan’s Great Grandfather. Jo had seen it all before and knew that no matter the damage caused in this storm they’d pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives. They’d done it before, sometimes at starvation point to rebuild herds and facilities. Duane found her serenity comforting on this occasion but irritating when he wanted to do something, and his Mom said no ever so sweetly, but with an underlying strength he wouldn’t want to mess with. Farmer folk are raised with steel in their backbones.
The cyclone had been hovering over their area pounding its intensity into these hills and moving slowly inland. But as it began to lose its intensity Duane wanted to go see how his Dad had fared with the cattle in their big barn.
“The cyclone has gone over Mom, I’m going down to the barn to see how Dad is!”
Duane gingerly opened the back door to test intensity of winds outside and this alarmed his Mom who he heard getting up from the sewing table as a sudden gust hit her. He quickly darted downstairs before Mom could reach the kitchen door to catch him.
What Duane didn’t know was the eye of the storm was passing over. This gave the impression nature was at peace again. He heard his Mom calling urgently from behind as he sped down the trail to the big barn some distance from their living area. He hid under the remaining leafed area of the big fig tree to examine a sheet of iron imbedded deep into the tree.
“Wow, that could cut someone in half,” he said aloud to a group of unhappy soggy crows attached firmly to a tree branch. This diverted his attention from the goal to reach his Dad at the barn and he decided to inspect the farm now that nature was at peace. He sped down the hill toward the dam. He was far from home and speeding past the barn when his father caught sight of him.
“Duane, come inside. The storm aint over yet, so we must be careful of the tail end. Winds will be back!” Far up one of the hills Allan saw trees beginning to bend to horizontal position once again, but Duane didn’t hear him as he sped down the hill.
Then the cyclone hit again as the remainder of it passed overhead. It came with a sudden roar that caught Duane’s attention. By now he was by the stream that fed the dam. Still running high but he could see where he was standing in water that stream had been much higher earlier.
Then a wall of water driven by the intensity of the cyclone tail end came downhill again. Duane stood fascinated by its size and speed. He was riveted to the spot and his cry of fear was drowned out by the roar of winds as the water spread out and enveloped him.
Allan fought against the wind as he ran to try and save his son but was pushed to his hands and knees holding onto a fence post. The dogs commanded to stay in the shed were watching and barked in fear as they saw Allan on his knees.
To be continued.
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