Tuesday, July 27, 2010

We did almost lose a wading pool once, though.

Last night we got another big lightening and thunderstorm. Why do these storms (our 3rd biggie of the summer) never come in the afternoon? Why always at 1am? Leah must have some input on that, since she's decided she's afraid of thunder and must sleep with Mom when a storm hits. I think she just likes the cuddling and can't sleep, but who am I to argue?

When any severe weather hits these days, I find myself getting a jolt of adrenaline, and not because I have dreams of being a storm chaser.

It's because I grew up on a farm.

This farm is in western North Dakota, where mild weather is an unheard of thing. It's never rather warm - it's sweltering. It's never dryish - it's parched. It's never kinda wet - it's sopping. It's never cool - it's chilly. And that's just the summer! The amount of perfect summer weather can be measured in hours, usually between 6 and 8 in the morning.

During the time I lived on the farm, the area was experiencing a drought. For about five years, the rain was so minimal that the garden was constantly being watered by us, not nature, and there were actual prairie fires. You know, like in Little House on the Prairie. That we beat out with towels. (Nevermind that they were usually lit by a spark from our burning garbage. Just as scary, my friends!)

Because the house is about a century old and of course has no air conditioning, the windows were almost always strategically open.

The few times it rained, it never sprinkled - it downpoured. And so the cry would go out from my mom: "Shut all the windows! Get the laundry in!" and all four of us would fly out of the living room where we were slavishly watching TV reruns and slam the wood frames shut, and then run out to yank the jeans and towels (and undies, and socks...) off the clothesline and into baskets to haul into the house.

At least once we got hit with a huge windstorm, in which we added to that list of emergency precautions: grab everything that isn't nailed down, or it'll end up in the next county.

Hail added another dimension: nothing to do but survey the damage afterwards. Farmers dread hail like no other weather induced failure - with a drought, you KNOW the crops will be poor. But hail takes an otherwise promising yield and pulverizes it in mere minutes.

Aaron sometimes wonders, when it starts raining really hard, why I whip my head around to the windows, even though we usually have them shut to preserve the precious air conditioning. If only he could see the list in my head: Do plants need to be brought in? Is there anything outside that shouldn't be? Is everything secured?

And of course, because we are city folk, the answers are usually: No. No. Yes.


Any memories of severe summer weather? Thankfully we never had a tornado that I remember - but we may have been down in the basement a few times.


Lexie said...

My memories are like your's... running around shutting window's (like i did last night) when a big storm came and yes, getting all the cloths off the line was important too. But we didn't have to worry about stuff blowing away since we didn't have the privilege of living on the prairie but with lots of trees. And the only major storm happening event was a couple of trees came down in our yard and it was a weekend when we were gone. So, maybe living on the prairie will bring a bit more excitement in the weather department!

nydampress said...

Sometimes during a really bad storm I have to tell myself that getting struck by lightning is NOT genetic. My mother was struck while she was standing on a metal bed...closing a window.
Last week a tornado went through our town. What's up with that? I was home alone, and was thisclose to going into the basement.
Also, the image of you guys watching TV during a storm is hilarious. Having a TV tech for a dad meant instead of pleas to close windows, it was orders to unplug all TVs. My dad loved thunderstorms, lots of business the next day :)

Aaron said...

My favorite was one storm where you and Ruth were looking out the window on the front door at the dogs who had to be out in the rain. "Poor Duke, poor Elsa..." and then the panicked scream: "CLOTHESPINS!!!"

Lyz said...

Lexie - Nope, never had a tree land in our yard! We did have a giant evergreen that could have done some damage, though.

Nydampress - It would never occur to me to unplug the TVs! And my goodness! Seriously? (About your mom.) Have you guys watched When in Rome? (I'm guessing no.:)

Aaron - That is hilarious! And I can just picture those poor puppies - probably sitting on the porch dripping and staring at us through the door. Either that or hiding in the barn.:)

BlueCastle said...

Okay, thanks to nydampress I am now seriously questioning our good judgment in having just bought the boys metal bunk beds which can only fit just next to their window. I never thought of them attracting lighting.

Never experienced severe weather until I moved to North Dakota. I have to admit I'm trying to get over my fear of it, but sometimes that loud clap of thunder that comes out of nowhere and shakes the entire house just does me in.

Noel said...

The night of the Fridley Tornados in the mid-1960s was my first memory of sitting in the basement during storms. The crackling of WCCO-AM added to the scriness.

The worst in Fargo for us was the Sunday July 1999 storm which went through on a Sunday morning. From our basement, the storm sounded like a freight train and I thought our house would be gone. After it passed, there were lots of trees and branches in the street. At Salem we had an interesting "unplugged" service since the electricity was out.