We had our first tornado scare of the spring a couple of days ago. In Belvidere, when we hear the sirens go off, we don’t mess around. A tornado tore through town back in 1967. We didn’t live in Belvidere then (none of us were born yet), but – if we had – the path of the tornado would have taken it down our street. Last January, a tornado dropped out the sky north of us and wiped out the apple orchard we frequent for our Halloween needs. I was upstairs in my office when I heard the sirens come to life. I didn’t waste any time. Daniel was already in the basement. He had been watching television in the family room and had the shortest distance to cover. I was pleased to see he hadn’t stopped to collect any toys or stuffed animals.
I was surprised to be in second place. Normally, I open my office door and Meka is already down at the foot of the stairs in the foyer, calling for me. When I heard the screaming and the clucking, I knew why she was bringing up the rear. Meka staggered down the stairs with Pepper tucked under one arm, flapping wildly. One hand was trying to hold the claws of Pepper’s feet down and the other was trying to hold her beak.
“I’m trying to save your life, you stupid bird!” she said, setting the ruffled parrot on the cement. Pepper waddled towards the throw rug like E.T. and inspected the underside of the old blue couch. When we came up with our tornado plan, I have to admit I only thought of the human beings in the household. That may be selfish; on the other hand, our species is the one paying the mortgage. We had about twenty minutes to kill while we waited for the signal all-clear. Meka and I decided that – next tornado – we would have a pet plan.
I’m afraid that in the event of a tornado, the fish will be the first to go. We only have a small aquarium, but ten gallons of water would be too much to try and lug down the basement stairs. Besides, we only have the two fish left. They hide from us all the time; it’s almost like having an empty fish tank as it is. If they can’t be bothered to show up for us to admire, I don’t have too many qualms not showing up to rescue them. Our first priority is Hamstersaurus Rex. He will jump into his ball in a moment’s notice. Even if Meka has to grab him in her hand, he’s a pretty tame hamster and doesn’t bite.
This brings us to the rental parrots. Akane doesn’t like to be touched and doesn’t like to leave her cage. Meka has a better rapport with Pepper (at least she did until the tornado watch). Still, she was nursing a parrot-induced cut on her hand. Next time, we plan to just open the cages on the way down to shelter. We always open a window to equalize the pressure. Meka and I decided both Pepper and Akane – though tame – would probably be smart enough to fly away in the event of a real tornado. In fact, we liked our idea so much; we may just keep the cages open by the window all the time from now on.