Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Stranger Things and Pizza Pockets

Hail the size of cantaloupes dropped like ordinance from the sky in Vivian, South Dakota smashing roofs and windshields. Old men in Cat hats ordered another cup of coffee in the Sunflower Diner when they saw the storm coming knowing that, for this one, they'd better stay put. It came across RR 17 from the north west, set the traffic lights swinging and blotted out the lights in the Wal Mart parking lot. The sky was "taller than I'd ever seen it," said Ernst Hamman, 78, and "kind of sparkling" added Gunter Sibley, 70,"course, that might a been the silos". "We could see the green in it, so we knew that was hail." And hail it was. Hail stones dropped out of the sky "like it was raining rocks," said Bonnie Gardner, 83, owner of the Sunflower Diner, "so I put another pot on".

The biggest stone measured in at 8" in diameter and 18" around. It had been bigger, more like 11'' across, they said. The young man whose mailbox it wrecked, yelled for his wife and she came out of the house wrapped in his Carhartt and flip-flops, and they stood with a thoughtful hand on the exploded mailbox and looked at it like a spiky rugby ball. "That'd kill you if it hit you," she said, and they looked out over the empty land where the storm was moving south out to the Southern States silo in blinding light just before it disappeared and they could hear the clatter on the grain dryers. They looked at it flashing out there, and then at the fields full of torn-up corn across the road shiny and creaking. And they rolled the stone with their feet toward the house, clacking through all the other hail stones like a crowd, and put it in the freezer, and they called her mother. The neighbors started coming over around 2 to take a look at it in there with the blue plastic ice trays and the Pizza Pockets, and opening the door, and the power went out around 4 - transformer blew in Pierre - so little by little a record of the strange things of heaven and earth sublimed.

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