The Ditto home, which I lovingly refer to as our “fake farmhouse,” sits atop a small hill out in the Saltese Flats, aka Tornado Alley, of the Spokane Valley. When forecasts call for “strong winds,” those of us out here translate it to mean, “Hang on to your hats, folks, this is going to get interesting.”
Last week, as the apocalyptic windstorm that swept the region was starting to pick up speed, I woke up at 3 in the morning to the sound of wind screaming past my bedroom window. The house was shaking in such a manner that I was sure either a tree was going to come crashing through our roof at any moment, or our trampoline was going to be launched through the air and take out everything in its path from here to Ritzville.
Thankfully, neither of those things happened. The wind did, however, manage to cut off our power and cancel school for the day, something that even the snow hasn’t been able to accomplish in the recent past. Normally, my kids would have woken up to the news that school had been canceled with boisterous cheers and rapid-fire plans for movies, hot chocolate and games.
But for kids who have been essentially homebound since March, the thrill is most definitely gone. My teenagers honestly seemed a little disappointed that online school wouldn’t be happening; it’s the one thing that provides distraction from the ho-hum of home-all-the-time.
My little boys, who have been attending in-person school since before Christmas, were definitely more excited. But this quarantine-tainted “wind day” didn’t have the same allure that a good old-fashioned snow day used to have.
As the kids ate breakfast at the kitchen counter, I explained the new parameters of our day like a frazzled cruise director announcing an ever-changing docket to her disappointed tourists:
“OK, so on today’s agenda, we have no heat, but the gas fireplace is operational, so I’ll let you fight it out amongst yourselves who gets to bask in its tiny glow. The well pump lost electricity and is no longer functioning, so running water is a thing of the past. I know the toilet-to-people ratio is not optimal, but we’re down to one flush per toilet for the foreseeable future.
“Do you hear me, people? One flush, so make it count. Lastly, you may under no circumstances open the refrigerator or freezer doors, although I have been authorized to do so if we need to access the cookie dough hidden in the very back.”
My sister-in-law Blayre lives about 15 minutes away and has three boys that my three younger sons love to play with any chance they can get. She texted me right after we had finished breakfast and right before Hyrum and Henry got into their fourth fight about who the dollar store bouncy ball really belonged to, and I thought of calling the school to see if maybe by some miracle power had been restored and I could send my boys there after all. (No.)
“Sooo … can your boys come play today?” she asked, her desperation evident even through text message. Her neighbor’s giant pine tree had come down and decimated her fence sometime in the night, and I’m sure the chaos at her house was palpable.
But, even still, she knew, as did I, that managing six cousins who will entertain one another is far easier than managing three brothers who will fight one another to the death every minute until bedtime.
I offered to let the boys play at my house, where the water might be off, but at least there were no pine trees smashed on top of things. She insisted that having my boys over would be no problem (bless her soul), and I happily accepted her offer.
By the time I picked up my boys later that afternoon, our power had been restored, the water was back on, and our house was heated to its full potential. Our wind day could have been a lot worse, and I’m thankful that we escaped unscathed. But I’m still a little irritated that 2021 is deciding to roar in like such a lion.
It seems like we’re due for some lamb instead.
Julia Ditto shares her life with her husband, six children and a random menagerie of farm animals in Spokane Valley. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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