"7:36 Iona". I was listening to the storm tracker and staring with mild anxiety at the t.v. screen. There was a list of names and times superimposed over the garishly colored map marking the immense storm heading our way. Each town in its path had an ETA assigned. It was like the storm was a fast moving train. I am used to, if nonetheless intrigued by the storm schedule. No stops, just passing through, but very precise.
The excited weather guy was looking for tornadoes by "chopper cam" and radar, and, to me, seemed half-hopeful. He was perhaps longing a little for that funnel cloud to descend, if just for a minute.
I was struck by how many towns there are on this schedule.
How is it that I have never heard of so many towns within 15 to 20 miles of me?
Without our storm schedule, I might never know of them.
So last night, when I saw Iona on the list, I was surprised. Iona, Texas? Surely named for that wonderful Scottish island, a sacred pilgrimage sight...
When was Iona, Texas founded? Who named it? Who gets to name a town? Was it someone who had been to Iona? Or another Iona (like Iona College)? Is there a good place to eat in Iona? On the official Texas highway map, it is called the Community of Iona, so perhaps it isn't a town yet. Is it one of those bright and shiny exurbs, built about five minutes ago on a former cattle ranch, now filled with new homes, grocery stories and gas stations? So many questions. So many little towns named on the storm's ETA schedule. Which are the older small towns, fading away quietly? How many are revitalizing their town squares with art galleries and B&B's for quick getaways? How many are mixing in city commuters with long-time residents wishing it was still the way it was?
If you're a city dweller, when was the last time you took a field trip, took time for the off-ramps of the interstate, tried imagining a different way of life, where a storm rushes by overhead in less than three minutes?