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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Wednesday, April 1, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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The Full Suburban: The greatness of pie and good Samaritans

By Julia Ditto For The Spokesman-Review

Turns out that when you live on the very cusp of the middle of nowhere, you are required from time to time to deal with “extreme weather conditions.” Recently, that has been code for “wind and snow so intense that you think you are witnessing the four horsemen ushering in the apocalypse.”

That’s what it felt like a couple weeks ago when temperatures were in the teens and the wind was blowing in the Saltese Flats as if it the world were literally ending. I woke up to screaming wind and a cold house, which I quickly discovered was the result of our furnace shutting down sometime in the middle of the night. What a delight!

My husband would be out of town until that night, and I was late for an early-morning meeting, so I decided to light a fire, tell the kids to bundle up and I would figure it out when I got home.

Preoccupied with worries about the furnace and the impending apocalypse, I drove down my winding driveway and directly into a 3-foot snowdrift that I somehow managed to not see until I was marooned in the middle of it. My four-wheel drive Suburban was no match for it. The doors were stuck shut, the snow was blowing sideways and I was in a dress and heels. There I sat, chagrined at my stupidity and not quite sure what to do.

And then, through the blinding snow, I noticed a truck with a snowplow attachment, barreling through the drifts in my neighbor’s driveway. I opened the sunroof, stood up on my seat and waved like I was the final survivor of the Titanic. I’m sure my pioneer ancestors, who crossed the Wyoming plains in the dead of winter, were collectively turning over in their graves.

But still! The panic!

This good Samaritan finished my neighbor’s driveway and came right over to start digging me out, first with the snowplow and then with a shovel. When that didn’t work, he drove to his house down the road to get a chain and went back for a different chain when the first one was the wrong size. All the while, I’m sitting in my warm car, watching him while occasionally sticking my head out the window to ask if there was anything I could do to help.

No, lady in heels. There is not.

Finally, he managed to free the Suburban from its wintry grave, plowed the rest of my driveway and faded into the storm with a wave and a smile.

How do you thank someone for going out of their way like that, braving wind, cold and exhaustion to help a complete stranger? If you’re me, you bake them an apple pie.

Pie is my love language.

It’s in my DNA, passed directly down from my mother and her mother before her. Exhibit A: 10 years ago, while my parents were being evacuated from their home during the Valley View wildfire, my mom suddenly remembered that the lemon meringue pie she had made for dessert was still sitting on the kitchen counter, and she drove back to get it.

“Let it burn,” I could almost hear her say after she retrieved the pie. “Everything that matters is right here with me.”

This is the stock whose blood flows in my veins.

I made two apple pies the next day: one for my family, and one for the good Samaritan’s.

Ours was gone within hours; his sat on the kitchen counter until the next morning when I learned that he would be out of town the rest of the week and thus unable to accept my gift of gratitude. With another bout of apocalyptic weather swirling around outside and the kids on a two-hour delay from school, YET AGAIN, I cut a huge slice of that pie and ate it at my kitchen table.

Thank goodness for pie and people like my good Samaritan. They almost make you feel like it’s not the end of the world after all.

Julia Ditto shares her life with her husband, six children and random menagerie of farm animals. Her view of family life is firmly rooted in the Spokane Valley. You can reach her at

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