when the wind blew

We’re skipping church this morning in favor of a) my husband and the kids cleaning up the yard and doing garden work before the heat peaks, and b) writing time at Panera for me. Our power came back on last night, but the internet is still out, and considering that the tower it at the top of a mountain, I have a hunch it will be out for quite some time yet. So I just spend forty-five minutes answering and organizing emails, skimming Facebook, and now, writing. The air conditioning, strumming guitar music, and caffeine buzz are a pretty nice combo.

Since I was last here in bloggyland, I flew to NYC, did All Kinds of Stuff, and then escorted a busload of 35 city kids back home (to the area, not to my house). But I’m going to skip over that (I’ll tell you about it eventually…probably) and cut straight to the latest story: the storm.

Friday night, my husband and I were innocently making the rounds between the kids’ rooms, tucking them in to bed, when the storm hit. I was saying good-night to my son when I noticed that the wind was picking up. I knew a thunderstorm was coming, so I went out into the hallway to shut the window at the top of the stairs. Right as I reached the window, the wind smacked into the house with such force that the window screen buckled, the bedroom doors slammed (some of the door stops were knocked clean off), and the maple tree (the one right outside the hallway window) snapped.

I screamed at my husband (I have no idea what I said) and took off down the stairs. When I paused at the bottom to gather my bearings and to make sure the rest of the family was coming, Nickel zipped right by me. I caught him around the waist and held on tight while he screamed and struggled, frantic to be going somewhere, though I had no idea where. I yelled at the other kids to get to the basement, scooped up the shaking boy with one arm, and ran for the door.

Later I asked Nickel where he was going. “To the basement,” he said.

“Did someone tell you to go there?”


“Then how did you know to go there?”

“Because that’s where you go when it’s windy!”

My husband had a harder time getting our older son out of bed. He was nearly frozen with terror and my husband had to yell at him a couple times to get him to move. Later, our son told us that the attic hole board (that’s in the ceiling of his room) had lifted up and blown away and some cloth (or something) shot down through the hole, a la a hand or something equally nightmarish. No wonder he was paralyzed!

The first 30-40 minutes in the basement were traumatic. Even in the cellar, we could hear the trees thrashing and doors banging. We had no idea what was going on. Was there a tornado? I had checked the weather a couple hours before—they were calling for some severe thunder storms but there was no mention of anything out of the ordinary.

The kids were shaking and crying, clinging to each other, hunkered down on the dirty concrete floor. Sweetsie was so terrified she got sick to her stomach and threw up. I said all sorts of things to calm them down:

We’ll be just fine.
Your spit rag is fine.
You may NOT keep crying. You have to calm down and be quiet.
If your clothes get ruined, we’ll buy more.
The dog and cat are perfectly fine. The chickens are FINE.
It’s just some bad wind. It is not a tornado.
This won’t last forever. It will soon be over.
We will be fine.
We’re safe here.

I wasn’t lying exactly, but my confidence was not based on reality. Unless hope is a reality?

“Pray, Mama, please pray,” they begged. And so, even though I don’t believe in that sort of way, I did, in little fits and starts. And when my husband and son went upstairs to get blankets (and the laptop, camera, and spit rag) and shut the windows against the rain that had started, I sang to them, too—”Jesus Loves Me” is what popped out.

We made a nest on the floor with all the blankets. Note: you know your kids are scared when they can lay practically on top of each other for an hour and a half without fighting.

To lessen their fear, I tried some humor. “Hey guys! Did you notice what I saved when the storm hit?”

“Blankets?” one daughter suggested.

“No, silly! YOU! You kids are always saying I love my computer more than you, so I’d like you to notice that the only thing I thought of when the storm hit was you. I just wanted to clear that up, you know, for the record.”

Also, I thanked them for the lovely family time we were having.

I don’t think they fully appreciated my little jabs at humor, but oh well. Joking around made me feel better.

Actually, I wasn’t all that scared, really—perhaps because I’m generally pretty clueless? My husband, on the other hand, was much more freaked out than I was  (though he didn’t let on in front of the kids).

When it came time to go back upstairs, we had to order the kids to come with us. They refused to go back up to their beds, however (I didn’t blame them), so we threw blankets all over the place and told them to pick a spot.

The next day was spent getting water from a spring, doing bits of clean-up, and cooking on the outdoor cookstove. We got the generator from the my parents’ property, and, with my brother’s family, took turns using it to keep the freezers cold. Which was a HUGE stress reliever, thank you Mom and Dad (and I’m so sorry that you had to get towed when your car broke down while you were driving home to WV in the storm and that you didn’t get home till one in the morning, and that when you did, you didn’t have electricity, but yeah, anyway, thanks for the generator). Towards evening we even hooked the generator up to the well so we could get showers, and we took water to some neighbors (and then kicked ourselves for not thinking of them sooner).

Last night at bedtime, the kids were still too scared to sleep alone so we piled into two bedrooms, never mind the thick, sultry, oppressively still air. (My daughter had cleaned up the basement and carried a pile of blankets down there, just in case.) And then the kids feel asleep and the power came on, yay.

Now that the power is back on and life is normalizing (though we’re still without a phone), I’m hoping the trauma soon fades. However, ordinary breezes feel slightly malicious (to all of us, I think), and one daughter believes it’s the hot weather that brings on the storms. In that case, we may be in for a couple more communal sleeping experiences as the heat wave isn’t going to break for another few days at least.

So tell me, how did the storm treat you?

P.S. Update: the power went back out again this morning, my husband reported when we met up at the church potluck. I’m still in town (though my latest coffee shop doesn’t have internet access)—it’s tempting to just stay here in Air-Conditioned Coffee Land forever.

P.P.S. The power is back on. The phone works. Still no internet.

P.P.P.S. Update, late Sunday night: we have internet!!!!

This same time, years previous: the big apple, goat cheese whipped cream, how to dry apricots, red beet greens, linguine with shrimp and cilantro-lime pesto, spaghetti with Swiss chard, raisins, and almonds, yogurt


  • Spiderjohn

    I live in Wv also ( about 8 miles out of Huntington) and we lost power when the storm hit us about 6:30pm fri.eve. and as I write this at 2:30pm. mon. we still are without power. It did some major damage here. Fortunately nobody hurt or killed.

  • Amy

    We had a wild out-of-the-blue wind storm down here in Texas last night as well. It didn't last long…and we took advantage of that time to de-shed the dogs outside…. but the neighbors lost half their fence. Luckily for us, power still stayed on…

  • Starr

    Glad you made it through unscathed! We haven't had any storms, just unrelenting heat. I'm through with summer (although I love the fresh produce from the garden).

  • the domestic fringe

    Sounds so scary! I'm glad you are all ok. I can imagine how terrible it must have been for the kids. We went through a bad hurricane when my kids were little and they were kind of traumatized by all storms for a few years. Thank God everyone is safe.

  • Suburban Correspondent

    I knew ahead of time – you HAVE TO follow Capital Weather Gang on Facebook. Because of CWG, we had plenty of warning and moved all the kids down to the main floor (we were mostly worried about large trees falling on the roof). I'm so glad everyone is all right – you definitely took more of a direct hit down there! There were a few tornado warnings SW of Richmond, where my son was. I guess you missed the lightning show? It was spectacular.

    People here are completely disoriented by the prolonged lack of power. Belonging to upper middle class suburbia, no one loots the electronic stores – it was the coffee supplies they were after. Lines at the few open Starbucks stretched around the block.

    Will we see you Friday in Charlottesville?

    • Jennifer Jo


      Yeah, we didn't see any lightning, bummer.

      Friday? I doubt it. But I haven't totally ruled it out…

  • Kathy ~ Artful Accents

    Terrifying, yes. Unfortunately we don't have a basement, so we huddled inside our main floor bathroom (all 4 of us, cat and dog too)…it's a tiny bathroom. Guess what my Ben asked me to do? Sing camp songs! So sing camp songs is what we did to pass the terrifying ordeal. Thankfully no damage done to our house, but our power is still not on. No idea when it will come back on. Spoiled food, smelly toilets, water jugs everywhere, showers at neighbors' houses fortunate enough to have power, headlamps at night, etc.

    Glad that your family survived the great "derecho" of 2012!

    • Jennifer Jo

      Camp songs! What a great idea!

      I'm so sorry your power is still out—so miserable! (Maybe getting to one-up everyone with your stories of woe will be some sort of twisted consolation?)

  • Margo

    We're fine. Glad to hear you're fine too. It was interesting to read your details.

    "I wasn’t lying exactly, but my confidence was not based on reality. Unless hope is a reality?" Yes, it is. I think. And I love this quote.

  • Kathy Rhodes

    We lost power at 9 Friday evening and it still is not on….almost 48 hours! However since the cows need to drink and we need to keep the milk in the tank cold, we have run the tractor and generator constantly except for 4-5 hours overnite. Used almost two tanks of diesel fuel, but one of the prks of living on a dairy!

  • Mama Pea

    A truly scary thing to go through. We've been through the whole tornado thing years ago when we lived in Illinois. Very glad to hear you all made it through the storm without any harm. Eventually, the kids' memories will make for good stories. "Remember that time when . . . " Loved the pictures of the cozy, safe nests of kids sleeping.

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