Ryan Call

How To Use This Guide

Example 1 – A small funnel forming at the base of a cumulonimbus cloud

You and your sister are driving through north Texas to visit distant family, relations through your father’s side, and you hear on the radio that a tornado warning has been issued for all citizens in your area. You scan the sky to discover that a small funnel has formed at the base of a thick, castellated storm cloud over the road ahead; it seems to approach quickly.

1. Turn to the index and find the term ‘funnel cloud.’ The index directs you to the entry on Tornadoes & Other Whirls.

2. In the text, you read that Tornadoes are an error of the deceased farmer’s jealousy, and that through his funnel cloud, the deceased farmer can again take hold of the earth, for good and for evil. Your sister weeps in fear, for she once dated a soybean farmer. He had enormous, callused hands and used her roughly.

3. As you try to calm her, you immediately reverse direction in search of a suitable shelter: a farmhouse, a ditch, etc. The horizon, far and flat and empty of any feature, mocks you.

Example 2 – The distant sound of thunder; a dark, menacing cumulonimbus cloud approaches

You have just received news via telephone that your mother and father have driven their newly purchased recreational vehicle nearly six hundred miles to surprise you for your twenty-sixth birthday. They carry with them a number of acrobatic kites, which they wish to fly with you this afternoon, despite your having repeatedly informed them that you had long since abandoned that childhood hobby. The sky has considerably darkened, is punctuated by the occasional flash of lightning, and menaces the neighborhood; you desperately replace the telephone in its cradle, wishing upon your mother and father a blown tire or some other mechanical mishap. Your wife angrily peers into the storm, awaiting the sweep of headlights up the drive, as the first heavy drops of rain splat themselves against the living room window.

1. Turn to the index and find the phrase ‘parental malaise.’ The index directs you to the entry on Thunderstorms, which surprises you, as you had expected to read about Hurricanes or Hailstorms.

2. In the text, you read that thunderstorms represent a familial convulsion, often symptomatic of repressed childhood memories, the wicked burdens of maturity, and the guilt that comes of fleeing one’s family. You become disheartened by this description, ignoring the thunderstorm’s capability to create positive transformation in its wake.

3. You and your wife secure the storm shutters, retrieve candles from the pantry, and await your parents’ arrival.

Ryan Call lives in Houston with his wife. Excerpts from his ongoing field guide to North American weather have been published by mlpress, Lamination Colony, and sleepingfish.


  1. this was so good, ryan. i loved this: "thunderstorms represent a familial convulsion."