Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Weekend

Look what the storm blew in! One rather bedraggled (and not best pleased) husband

Kerry McLean weathering the storm on a day out with her husband Ralph
Kerry McLean weathering the storm on a day out with her husband Ralph

By Kerry McLean

I remember the first time I watched The Wizard of Oz. I was probably only four or five years old and, for some reason, it was being shown at the old Playhouse Cinema in Portrush. True to form, I recall being more excited about the sweets and popcorn on offer than the film I was about to see, and that lack of enthusiasm deepened when the credits rolled and I realised it was in black and white.

As a child of the Seventies I was used to the primary colours of programmes like Sesame Street and Rainbow.

Any other colour palate seemed immediately boring. But then something unexpected happened that piqued my interest. The formerly pastoral scene of Dorothy, Toto and her friends, going about their daily business on the family farm was suddenly thrown up in the air, literally, as a tornado hit, sucked up the house with Dorothy still inside and spat it out in the Land of Oz and into wonderfully glorious technicolour.

From that moment on, I was left with an obsession for sparkly red shoes and extreme weather.

I certainly got plenty of the latter a few days this week. If you'd been looking for me in the wee small hours of the morning, you'd have found me perched on the kitchen sofa, wrapped in a blanket and clutching a warm mug of tea while enjoying the incredible show that mother nature was putting on.

My love of weather probably isn't all that surprising when I think about it. After all, I have rain to thank for being here in the first place.

My daddy was working as a game warden in Africa for two years when the urge to feel the rain on his skin and smell the wet grass grew too strong for the boy raised in the middle of our lush countryside.

He planned to come home for two weeks and then return but he met my mum, fell in love and the rest, as they say, is history.

As much as I love the storms we get here, what I'd really love to experience are the extreme conditions, like the tornado that upended Dorothy's calm existence in Kansas.

The first time I made my own journey to Africa, I arrived in October, at the end of what had been a particularly hot, dry season. The country was parched and the land was devoid of anything green.

Everywhere you looked, the sight of cracked earth met you and everything was covered in an orangey-brown dust, kicked up from the ground. It was near the end of my first week when the weather suddenly changed.

Great big, angry rain clouds gathered above us and all of a sudden, the downpour began. It wasn't like the rain showers we get at home.

It was as though someone had turned a tap on above our heads and unlike here, the water felt warm. It pounded down, almost like a solid sheet, for five minutes and then disappeared as quickly as it had come. You could actually hear the earth soaking up the water and within a few hours, the land around us was green again. It was amazing.

I know I'm not alone in enjoying or feeling inspired by the weird and wonderful weather nature can throw our way.

I mean, what would Wuthering Heights be without those descriptions of the winds whistling in off the moors?

But I also know that my appreciation, on occasion, should be reined in. Like the time my husband had to clamber over our next door neighbour's fence and attempt to wrestle a gazebo back into our garden after a gale had carried it away.

Or when he had to sprint off down the road, chasing the lid from our daughter's sandpit as it hit speeds Usain Bolt would have been proud of.

Or indeed this week, as he was out in the dark, the rain lashing off him, attempting to deal with a tree that had blown down in our garden.

I admit it probably wasn't the best time to lean out the back door and say how amazing the storm was...

Talking about extremes of weather, the frosty, icy glare he threw back at me is up there with the best of them!

Belfast Telegraph


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