“When you’re weary, feelin’ small”¦
Dateline: Greyhawkin’ Table Rock, Missouri
It never stops.
The lightning. The wind. The rain.
It never stops.
The radio that turns itself on and yells at me to hide.
I haven’t slept more than four hours a night in the past three days. The sky above me is on fire. The ground below me rushes by in torrents. The wind, the wind slams into the box I live in and moves it, rocks it. I hear it whistle above me; I feel it scramble underneath the db/bb/rv and struggle to lift it.
Take it away.
With me in it.
I sleep with both eyes open. Alone. Some nights I could read, read by the constant fire in the sky. I tell myself, ‘what’s the chance,’ what’s the chance that it will come for me.
And the radio screams “¦ a good chance.
I’m told of Doppler tornado images in counties I’ve never heard of, but, counties I may be in. I hear the names of towns, none say Farmington, my town, but some sound familiar “¦ did I drive through there “¦ was that where the Walmart is, what town is this that I’m trying to sleep.
Where am I.
Where is it.
And will it come for me.
“”¦when tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all”¦”
Not 20 yards away from me sits a house on stilts. A Lance Truck Camper. Minus the truck. Four skinny legs, and a dining room slide. It is tethered to the world via a 30 AMP cord and brown tube that runs to a sewer.
Full Hookups under the storm.
And inside this house on stilts is a family. A family very close to me in distance, in my heart. Two adults, two little kids. Abigail – 2 ½ who says she is 5, and Daniel, who is 5. Their mom, Sandy, and my good friend, their dad, husband, Elite Series angler, James Niggemeyer.
I’ve never told them, they don’t know it, but during the storms, while the weather radio screams, I get up out of bed and sit at my dinette that also slides, and I roll the one window blind up that you can see through.
Then I roll up the one blind, the privacy blind, you can’t see through, and I sit there and watch their truck camper, watch it to make sure it is still there. Watch it as I used to do when I cracked open the bedroom door and watched my children sleep, watched them breathe to make sure they were still alive.
The Elite Series isn’t just about fishing.
It’s also about families and friends.
Huddled under the storm.
“”¦I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough, and friends just can’t be found”¦”
Yesterday, James and his family took me to bring my rental car back to the rental joint in Branson and as we drove over a bridge, below us we could see the river.
And the homes the river was flowing through.
Homes about to be underwater.
One home had the river coming through the front picture window. And inside the truck, silence, except for the prayers each one said in their head.
What would you do if a river came for you through your front window? What would you save, who would you save, could anything, anyone be saved?
Afterwards, while standing in the mist in the campground, a mist that seemed to come UP from the earth as the planet cried about what the sky had done, James, pawed the ground with one foot and looked down at me from his 6 foot something height and said, “Sort of makes you put what we do in its proper place doesn’t it.”
And I shook my head yes. It puts EVERYTHING we all do in its proper place.
Not just fishing.
It puts human life in place, in this place we call home.
As I sat last night and early this morning watching the Niggemeyer’s truck camper, I saw with the eyes that look inward that house, the house with a river running through the front window.
Thought about what James also said, “db it certainly puts us all in our place, just when we think we are some big hotshots, the earth shows us just how small we really are.”
Small, how small we really are.
And as the dark clouds come once again for us, I place my rain suit that leaks next to the door. Find my LL Bean rain shoes and put them by the steps, toes pointed towards the outside.
Turn down the bed, turn up the weather radio, turn off all the lights, and try to sleep.
But under angry sky lit by constant bolts, I will get up and sit by the window.
And I will watch the small truck camper on stilts.
With the family within.
With my friends within.
And I will face the storm so the storm that comes for us will know, that out here, on this tour they call the Elites, we watch out for each other.
Because that is our PLACE, here and now, our place with friends who become family.
And because of that, I want the storm to see my face in the window. Want the storm to see something as it howls. Want it to understand, that here at Table Rock Lake, and all the other lakes we face with storms, that maybe, just maybe”¦
“¦ we are not so small after all.
“”¦when evening falls so hard, I will comfort you
I’ll take your part, oh when darkness comes, and pain is all around”¦”
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Simon & Garfunkel