"I was keeping an eye on it.”
By now, you’ve already seen the photo. And if you haven’t, we’ll pause while you take in all of it’s glory.
In the image, a man is seen casually mowing his backyard lawn while a giant tornado looms ominously in the background. When the photo first was shared over the weekend, like everyone else, I was immediately taken in by its the surreal and shocking nature. After the initial wave, my first thought was that it must surely be a fake, someone’s casual Photoshop meme that managed to sneak by social media’s collective standards and practices.
After the man’s family confirmed the even more bizarre details: Alberta, Canada resident Theunis Wessels was really mowing his lawn while the apocalyptic force of nature hovered behind him. "I was keeping an eye on it," he insisted, assuring literally no one.
Understandably, the photo set of a firestorm of tweets, with everyone making the understandable assumption that this was an insanely reckless person, insisting on mowing his lawn with a deadly storm headed directly into his path:
Cecelia Wessels told the Canadian Press she was taking a nap when her 9-year-old daughter woke her up to express concern that her Dad was carrying on in the backyard.
That anecdote added exponential fuel to the viral fire. But there were a few details that didn’t get caught up in the proverbial storm, namely that Wessels stresses the tornado was moving away from him and the family home.
In fact, all of the family’s neighbors were also in their backyards, snapping up photos of the tornado. "Our whole street, everyone was on their back patios taking pictures," Wessels said.
It just so happened that none of them captured the moment in such strange glory.
"It looks much closer if you look in the photo, but it was really far away," Cecelia Wessels told the Canadian Press. "Well, not really far, far away, but it was far away from us."
Wessels herself clearly took the moment in stride, sharing the caption to the viral photo on Facebook: “My beast mowing the lawn with a breeze in his hair.”
None of that takes away from the incredible nature of the photo. But when you get all the details, it’s far less shocking than the narrative going around that this totally chill Canadian would not be stopped from knocking off his “To Do List” while the world burned around him.