Sunday, February 4, 2007

Miracle on I-35

The Wizard of Oz is set in rural Kansas for good reason. The state’s wide open spaces provide a perfect breeding ground for tornadoes and violent storms.

It only takes a few hours for us to travel I-35 from our home in the Kansas City area to Wichita, Kansas, where much of my husband’s family lives. Usually a smooth and easy trip, it can become unsettling and downright scary when the spring and summer storm season is in full swing.

At 2 p.m. on a steamy afternoon the sky grows black as midnight, lashing the landscape with sheets of rain that are so dense you can’t see the road more than one car length before the windshield. Seemingly endless banks of angry clouds rise from the horizon and brilliant jagged lightning rips through the sky. Each of these powerful storms may emerge or calm down within several hours or several minutes, creating a predictable path of destruction or surprising gift of nature in its wake.

During one trip to Wichita, we received such a gift. From far across the prairie, we saw a break in the mean-spirited sky. Blinding sunlight cut a swath from high above, gilding the parched ground and electrified air. As I grabbed the camera, my husband cautioned there was no way I could take a good photograph through the car window as we traveled at 70 miles an hour.

But weeks later, when I finally developed the film, I found a perfect photograph of the spectacular light shaft – our own miracle on I-35.

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