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Storyboard: The Tale of the Twister

Aug 1, 2011

by Su Wu handmade and vintage goods

Her arms were so long she could tie them in knots, in double-eights and barrel loops and a two-arm, overhand hitch. Sometimes, if she turned too quickly, her arms would whip around her like planetary orbits, her tiny fists spinning through space. She slapped people by accident and knocked things off shelves. But her father thought unbreakable plates were morbid, an attempt at immortality and an affront to fragile hearts. Also, he was an optimist. For the girl was not only the gangliest, but also the smartest person in the county — you could tell by her smile — and perhaps she’d one day learn to be graceful.

[Clockwise, from top left: Handmade head hanging planter from tracybrannstrom; Vintage 1950s plaid pullover from littleveggievintage; New Zealand wool blanket from Fox and Thomas; Porcelain bowls from Kate Braland Ceramics; Vintage red huarache sandals from Skinny and Bernie; Galvanized punched out hanging lantern from Ocean Swept; Sterline silver branch with three pine cones from Gur Kimel; Pine stump stool no. 5 from Heavy Grain]

She picked apples while lying in the shade, the juicy sun-kissed ones in the highest upper boughs, beyond bird nests and power lines. She gave hugs that went on for days. But being so long-limbed brought on a fair bit of teasing, and the girl soon developed a thirsty wit, a demeanor so dry that rivers became streams and stores sold out of hand lotion and lip salve.

[Clockwise, from top left: Four Fables in Slang by George Ade from beepalix; Vintage 1980s Morris the Cat t-shirt from Lapine Ours; Allsorts high-lather soap from Ethically Engineered; Carved oak tree and stump from treewiz; 1970s work boots from vintageurbanrenewal; Vintage flocked jackalope bank from recycledcharm; Weathered primitive desk caddy from goodmerchants]

One day, on the outskirts of town, a tornado appeared: not too big, but social: the kind that seems to favor habitation instead of solitude on the open plains. The twister felled the old oak tree, knocked over a barn, and carried away a chicken or two in its enthusiasm. People went inside. And the girl called for her cat, Babe, a cat so round and fluffy orange that it looked like a cartoon drawing of the sun. Babe was outside in a tree, of course, licking his paw.

[Clockwise, from top left: Vintage scallop collar blouse from Moonthong; Canvas vintage folding camping stool from Indianvsindian; Wooden moon phases handmade puzzle from justhatched; Secret order of the beaver badge from touchthedutch; Vintage LL Bean duffel bag from The Old Chap; Vintage laboratory tins from lacklusterco; Paul Bunyan souvenir powder compact from lindapaloma; Jagged wing glasses from Vintage50seyewear]

Now, it’s an easy task for a long-armed girl to pluck a cat from a tree, a specialty and a ready favor. This time, though, she was in the path of the tornado, and it barreled into her like a long lost friend. Don’t get me wrong, folks ’round here have seen a lot, like really big zucchinis and their fair share of game day miracles. But when the girl wrapped her ropey arms around the tornado and started to soft shoe: well, that was something else.

All night under the bright gray sky, the girl and the tornado dipped and twirled and danced, until the tornado got tired. They were waltzing, some said later. The flamenco, others insisted. Fact is, the girl with really long arms was just holding on. That’s the toughest sort of grace.

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