The first day of the storytelling festival was hot. Kids came in buses and we told stories under the tent and inside the education building. At the end of the day, I walked the perimeter of the prairie land, up to the heritage center, and watched the movie again. Arriving back at our house, Jesse, who keeps the prairie a prairie, said there were severe thunderstorms coming. He said to call if we needed help. We kept the radio on, and the sky grew dark. The wind whipped the trees, the thunder rumbled like death itself was on the doorstep, and the radio station talked about finding safe places inside
Jesse, when he spoke to us earlier, said he wasn’t sure we could hear the siren, but we did. Nelson couldn’t find his shoes. I couldn’t find the flashlight even though I had just put it down. We pulled open the heavy door of the shelter and stood on the big floor mat, which says "Welcome" in 10 languages. I turned the battery operated light on. We thought about locking all four locks on the door, but, instead, propped it open with a big white bucket and watched the rain fall sideways and the hail follow. The closet at the back of the room held blankets, and ready to eat food and bottles of water, all under the watchful eye of Daniel Freeman in poster form, the first homesteader. This land had been his home. How many times had he witnessed the dark whirling sky and the never-ending rumble of thunder? The rain slowed. Nelson and I scurried back to our house only to find that Meredith, the park ranger, and Mark, the park manager, had tried to reach us, as well as Nelson’s sister and nephew, who both live in Lincoln. All those folks hoping we were safe.
Finally, the radio station broadcast music again. I went to bed. I was sure I wouldn’t sleep. I was sure I couldn’t sleep, but, despite myself, when I heard the spring peepers start again and when I heard a truck roll by on the road outside, followed by a car, I did.