Without fail, at least two hours before a thunderstorm passes over our little piece of the Ozarks, our two 12-year-old chow-hounds begin pacing like panthers.
When the meteorologists report a storm brewing, I watch the dogs. If they are at peace, so, too, am I.
On the other hand,"nervous dogs" equals "alert Linda."
A book I read recently from the Alton library says many people reported feeling "as if something ominous was about to happen" before 9/11 and the Thailand tsunami, even dreaming about it beforehand.
In a February 2011 Omegatimes article, managing director Brian Hay writes in "2012, Part 1: A Year of Apprehension ... Yet Divine Encounters" that many differing sources of documentation "point to a major confrontation taking place with nature and humanity in our solar system" at the end of 2012.
Many suggest it is nothing but alarmist speculation, Hay points out.
"Yet when you look at the varied origin, and vastly different cultures from which this information comes ... you have to ask the question 'how could so many, from such different backgrounds, be saying the same thing without there being some legitimacy or truth to it?'.
"Many times through history the people of God have been soundly sleeping while the ungodly have been awake and alert to the dangers awaiting them. Is this going to be any different? People who should know better are often the most uninformed ... choosing to reject the suggestions as being negative and pessimistic," Hay writes.
So, at the risk of sounding like a lunatic, I admit I have felt the apprehension Hay writes about. It started long before I heard any of the now-trite predictions about the end of the Mayan calendar and unique stellar alignment awaiting us in less than 12 months.
In a November 2009 article, NASA says "the year 2012 is acting like a badly behaved celebrity." NASA calls projections about the winter-solstice point and the centerline of the Galaxy lining up exactly on Dec. 21 "the great 2012 doomsday scare."
Maybe so, but I am watching the dogs.
I don't have an arsenal of weapons or five years worth of MREs stashed in my basement, but I have been getting prepared over the past few years for a life less dependent on commercial trade.
Without regret, two years ago, I sold nearly all my sentimental, useless valuables in exchange for a little, country home.
So, the sky doesn't fall this year? The fact is, gasoline, groceries, utilities and everything else of our material world will never be any cheaper than they are right now. Not to mention the frightful, increasing extremes in our weather and disharmony on the world.
I like having wood heat, a greenhouse and natural source of water. For me, 2012 is simply a continuation of weaning myself from manmade comforts.
Two pleasant surprises awaited me at the end of the 2011.
First, Ed and Marilyn Crow, who I met for our December issue of Avenues, stopped by the office with a dozen fresh-out-of-the-oven donuts and a note thanking me for "capturing the essence" of what their Mammoth Spring cabin means to them.
What a treat.
And then, a Christmas card arrived from a woman in Salem, who, if she is not already a professional writer, should be one.
Because I am at our Salem office just once a week, I got the card after Christmas. When my boss handed me the envelope, covered in a crazy hodgepodge of holiday stickers, I thought, "This looks like something my mother would do."
Inside was a beautiful gold-embossed card of the Wisemen and a handwritten letter from "Kat," who declared herself a fan of my columns. She recalled how I wrote last spring about dodging the daffodils under my ill-placed clothesline. Even I had forgotten penning that springtime prose.
Kat says friends from Texas shared with her a custom of affixing above their front door their first card each year depicting the three kings, thus ensuring safety and good luck to their home all year.
"Charming, no?" Kat writes.
Yes, charming, indeed.
Can you guess where my holiday card from Kat now hangs? I feel more at ease already.
Still, I've got my eye on the dogs.