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Monday, May 28, 2012

A Kiss to Remember

Photo: Cate Eighmey
When Caleb and Candra Pence married on May 19, a few uninvited guests were raising a ruckus near their outdoor wedding. Actually, the tornadoes that touched down during the ceremony were about 8-10 miles away, neither the barrel-racer (Candra), the bull-rider, nor their guests were concerned enough to interrupt the ceremony. The Associated Press reports many of the details of the unusual wedding and the Christian Science Monitor provides a video that shows the surreal calm of the wedding guests.

This story -- surprising as it is to those outside Tornado Alley -- is an example of how accustomed people can become to the physical and human geography of their home regions. The groom's mother, for example, explained that she was not worried, not only because of the evident distance of the tornadoes, but also because they were "moving to the northeast." Her reaction reflects something else about the geography of much of the United States outside of the original thirteen colonies: because most roads follow the township and range system, people usually know what direction they are looking. In Kansas, with very low relief (flat land) and very few trees, a person can easily visualize an area of a hundred square miles or more.

Of course, tornadoes are by far the most dangerous kinds of storms, and those shown in these wedding photos did do a lot of property damage. But in this location (about 180 miles to the east of the home of Dorothy and Toto), they are also a part of the landscape that is only noticed when it is a direct threat.

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