I have been dithering about asking to take the second-degree elevation for awhile now. There’s so many things I feel that I need to do first, and–honestly–I could write several substantial posts on those alone. But this is not that post. This is the story of how I realized it was time to request second.
This past weekend, the Washington faction of Hartwood Grove took a road trip to Eugene to meet up with our Oregon faction to celebrate the Autumn Equinox, or–as we call it–Harvest Home. Initially, the four of us were to travel down together…but due to real life problems like work schedules, that was a short-lived plan. So I found myself on a road trip with nothing but NPR and my own thoughts for company. Alas, the ISIS in contemporary news is not the Isis I’d like to hear about when traveling to a Pagan spiritual event, so NPR got nixed somewhere just south of Portland.
About two seconds later, I saw my very first dust devil.
It was just a little one in a harvested wheat field, and it was over almost as soon as it began, but I was thrilled to see the funnel of dirt rise, fall, and twirl about in the air. I was pleased to have had the opportunity to see something so relatively rare, and it made me a little nostalgic for my Indiana hometown and tornado season. I filed that away in my “blessed to have experienced” mental file and proceeded down I-5.
Holy geez. Over the next 90 minutes, I think I saw about 200 different dust devils. Just past Salem and Corvalis where the valley opens up toward the east, I almost stopped the car, there were so many in my line of sight all at one time. I counted just over a dozen very big, dark, obvious ones. They were great columns of dirt sending debris maybe 150-200 feet into the sky. Interspersed around them were some 30 or 40 smaller ones that were of various sizes between 15 and 30 feet, and which were much shorter-lived. My jaw was on my car floor.
Honestly, it was a visual image very close to some of my nightmares. As nostalgic as I am for the amazing storms and tornadoes of my childhood, a nightmare I have fairly frequently is watching tornado after tornado appear and snake through the sky, destroying everything in their paths as I watch in horror. They keep coming, these tornadoes, one after another, until I wake up shaking.
But without the strength and violence of a tornado, I could see these baby twisters in a different light. Sure, they turned everything helter-skelter for a little while, but when they fizzled out, everything returned to a new order. Maybe another one would form soon thereafter and the cycle of tumult would occur again. Maybe it wouldn’t. But eventually, the changes the dust devil brought would fade and life for all the little bugs and things it disturbed would return to normal.
One major part of me putting certain things off, things like requesting second degree, is because I feel a bit like I’m caught up in one of these twisters. It’s not terribly violent, but I feel things swirling around all the time, and it’s not coming to a rest. When I do end up in a lull, I’m too afraid of the next blowup to make any commitments or create anything new. So I stagnate. But in watching the dust devils, I realized that even if things are temporarily tumultuous and might become so again in the future, I’ll be able to roll with the punches. So why not take on what I can now? I’ll be able to fit it into any brave new world.
And so at our Harvest Home festival, I officially asked to take second.