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Contemporary

I’ll preface this story with the fact that it is all true. I live in Spokane, Washington. Have a nice house, surrounded by large pine trees. One day, my wife and I were leaving our school to go pick up our daughter and the weather turned dark. The wind almost blew my car sideways as I drove home. It was as close to being in a hurricane/typhoon of which I haven’t seen outside of South-East Asia. As I struggled to control my car in the now darkness, rain and wind pummeling us, I managed to get my daughter home from her school. Immediately, I told my wife and daughter to get in the basement. Our house is a 1946 brick-bunker home, very well built, and I knew that there would be trees falling all around the neighborhood. Most of the trees are about 150 feet tall and unstable. They went downstairs, and I reluctantly went out to get supplies, as we weren’t prepared for the gravity of the storm. 

I dodged one fallen tree to get off our street and go to the grocery store. Trees were falling everywhere, and these were huge trees! I saw several homes that were already crushed by trees. Roofs destroyed, and could only hope for the best of those who lived in them. I knew my wife and daughter would be safe in the basement if any of our trees would have fallen on the roof of the house. 

And then there were the explosions. Power-lines getting ripped down, electrical boxes blowing up. I saw electrical lines fall on top of cars while I strained to see through the darkness and rain. I saw a car get hit and basically explode. It wasn’t until the next day that I realized that that person in the car had perished from electrocution. It is still, to this day, a very sobering thought of something I witnessed. I made it home, after getting food from the only store that still had power (they had a generator). I arrived back at my street only to find that two enormous trees had book-ended the street. I couldn’t get home without a chainsaw. The power was long since gone as the trees had ripped down all the neighborhood’s overhead power lines. Pitch black, no way to get home besides ditch my car at a neighbor’s driveway, of whom I didn’t know from Eve. Some people step up in a crisis and I am thankful for that.

So I get my supplies, start walking through the minefield of debris; downed power lines, fallen trees, crushed cars, etc. I make it back to my house and family. I got lucky, half the city’s power grid was dead and I managed to make it home. Since our furnace was electrically controlled, it wasn’t working. It was November, and nights are cold. So using a flashlight I walked out into the street, in the dark and rain, and used a hatchet to chop branches off of the trees that had fallen across our street. You don’t do things like that for yourself, you do it for your loved ones. You do it for their safety.

I collected bundles full of wood, brought them into the house. Luckily we had a wood-burning fireplace so I was able to make a fire. It was cold in the room. I lit the fire and all of us snuggled next to the fireplace surrounded by blankets and the warming glow of the fire. It is kind of ironic that the trees that killed our power grid ended up allowed us to make it through the night.

The next morning, we awoke cuddled together at the now smoldering hearth and reveled at the glowing sunlight. Smiles all around. Then we realized that we still had no power. In the light of the day, I went back to retrieve my car from down the street. The trees still blocked me from getting back to my house. I could bring it closer as crews were starting to chop up the fallen trees that were laying on the road. I walked down to speak with the technician from the utility company and told her I wanted my car. And, boy, she was hesitant! She showed all the downed power lines that I would have to pass in order to get back to my driveway. She was like “This one’s on you!”. I was fine with that. I’ve been in much worse situations. I knew the risks. I got home, after they started to cut up the tree that was blocking my driveway.

Long story-long. Our power was out for two weeks. We stayed in hotels, and family’s houses and snuggled on the floor in front of the fireplace; burning the trees that knocked out our electricity. We never knew what we were going to come across. Yes, I had no internet for two weeks. But really, when you are taking care of your loved ones, nothing is inconsequential. Chop a tree with an ax to help save your daughter’s life is the ultimate thing you can do. Brave the unknown and do what is right. 

We are spoiled. Luckily, I had the resources to weather that storm; but I still used simple intuition to make things work out. I implore everybody to rely on their innate talents and use them in times of crisis or danger. Everyone who is reading this knows that we all have the ability to persevere through what we Westerners may think of the bad times. No heat, no power, no internet or television. We have to work for ourselves. What does that mean? At the end of the day, what it really means is that you do everything you have to do to keep your family safe. A simple snuggle in front of a fire that you just toiled for 2 hours to collect the wood for and make it work and stoked it during the cold night. That is love and life. You feel the warmth of your family’s hearts that burn brighter than the flames. 

April 30, 2021 19:48

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