Towards the end of April we in the newsroom were wrapped up with what seemed important: The wisdom of a tri-county RITA, the one-year anniversary of the Pegasus oil spill, the odd state of "open carry," MC Hammer, Geauxjudge and Charlize Theron's hurt feelings, and I forget several others besides.
Then the tornado. We walked a ditch on Highway 107 just southwest of Vilonia at first light the day after — Vilonia proper was still closed off. That ditch and the barbed-wire fence caught some lighter items. Lots of kids' clothes and broken toys.
We told that story — or we told some of it. Some stories we didn't know how to tell in what we correctly think of as a family newspaper. Peoples homes and everything in them were opened to the world and strewn from here to Batesville, but mostly here, and many thousands of volunteers were uninvited, but welcome guests there. A person who makes his living following disasters put it this way to us:
"You may have someone who is very religious, but in a closet or a drawer they may have something that is perhaps a bit more... agnostic."
And we heard other stories that we wish we hadn't. We spared you, dear reader, from these; I'll spare you again.
And then, on top of the things we thought were important before the storm, come a number of things after it. Toad Suck was first. Then same-sex marriage and then the possibility of a "wet" vote going to the people for the first time since Jimmy Carter.
It's been the most eventful four weeks I've ever lived and tried to tell as a journalist. But we walked the ditch on that stretch of Highway 107 too.
As a newsroom we'll keep on writing about the things that are important. But in light of the tornado, and the awful destruction in Mayflower and Vilonia and the long, wide damage area between them, all these things lose importance. To my mind they fall back, as Churchill once said, "not only distant, but prosaic."
Much less than half of the things have happened that need to happen to put what the tornado did back as right as they can be. We need volunteers and donations now as much as ever. We live in interesting times, but let's not lose the tornado perspective in the mix.