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Life with Liz: The calm after the storm

It seems like I go for weeks struggling to write about the mundane aspects of everyday life, and then boom, suddenly I don’t even know where to begin to recap the madcap comedy of errors that the last few days have been.

Originally, I was going to tell you all about our first adventure with Duncan at his hunt tests. Then, I was going to tell you about the little stowaway that came home with us, Duncan’s new little brother Henson. Then I was going to tell you about our first semi-sort-of grown-up vacation away from our kids. But, after the events of the last 24 hours, all I can talk about right now is the crazy 20 minutes of a storm that hit our town on Monday night.

It all started innocently enough. While I was glad that I didn’t have to miss the kids’ halftime performance, since the football game from last Friday was moved to Monday, I also had a pile of errands and chores to catch up on after being away for four days.

So, I did what any good, strapped-for-time parent would do, and I dropped the kids off, went home and caught up on laundry, went to the game at halftime, and planned to leave to grocery shop for the second half of the game. I was already halfway out of the stadium when I heard the ominous announcement that the stadium should clear out immediately.

Since the wonderful husband was on his own mission of errands, and he, too, had come to the game for halftime, albeit on a different route, we elected him to wait for the kids, and I was going to continue with my plan. As I started to pull out of the parking lot, I was overlooking the football field as an entire wall of water and wind barreled through the stadium. It was awesome and terrifying.

Within minutes, the power started flickering and in almost no time, the entire town was dark, except for emergency lighting. It took about 20 minutes for the kids to get organized and dismissed, at which time, they loaded soggy uniforms and instruments into the back of my car and piled in, ready for a wild ride home.

You know what smells great? Wet wool and soggy, sweaty kids. We pulled away from the school, a few inches. It quickly became clear that we were going nowhere fast. We were anxious to get home, not just because of the crazy weather, but because our new puppy had just weathered his first thunderstorm and we were worried about him, too. Duncan isn’t fazed at all by weather, so we were hoping he set a calm example for his new little brother.

We finally made it to our driveway, and the next saga of our adventure started. I have to say, I was extremely grateful to have two able-bodied teenagers at my disposal. The two of them jumped out in front of our cars and pulled the debris out of the way as we moseyed up the driveway. About a quarter of the way in, we came to our first full-size fallen tree. Luckily, the WH had his hunting truck, which is a veritable MacGyver on wheels, with an array of useful items stashed in every nook and cranny. The back of my car? Full of musical instruments, gym bags, and assorted dog toys. In no time at all, the boys and the WH had rigged up some straps and dragged the offending limb off the road, at least enough so we could pass.

Meanwhile, my brother started working the driveway from the other end. The hum of the chain saw let us know we had more adventures ahead of us.

A and G, who for once managed to cooperate, did a great job scouting the rest of the way up to the house, where we were greeted by an even bigger mess. Whatever it was that blew through the area on Monday night, our house was right in the line of fire. Even worse than the downed electrical lines, which signaled a dire few days without electricity ahead of us, was the caved-in roof of the chicken coop. Since the downed wires were lying right next to the coop, and it was still dark and wet, and we could hear most of the occupants of the squished coop carrying on, we had to hope for the best and wait until morning to assess the damages more closely.

As it so often does, the morning after the storm dawned clear and bright, with no hint of nature’s fury that had blasted us less than 10 hours prior. We were happy to hear the roosters crowing, and although the damage surrounding us was severe, there was no damage that can’t be fixed.

Our feathered friends were a little bit, dare I say it, shellshocked, and the chain saws will be busy for the next few weekends. We were without power for a few days, but thanks to the generosity of our family and friends, we survived just fine. On Tuesday night, I told the boys to get a campfire going so I could make dinner. As I brought out the fixings for cheesesteak subs, G got a worried look on his face. “We’ve uh … only ever cooked on a campfire for fun, Mom. Never to survive.”

Since they’d been home all day and had been trying to eat all the food in the fridge before it went bad, I assured him that no matter how bad he thought my campfire cooking was, he surely would survive. I also didn’t tell him Plan B was calling out for pizza.

In the end, I did my Boy Scouts proud and provided them with a well-cooked, hot meal, before they split to get showers and sleep at Nana and Pop Pop’s in the air conditioning.

It would be easy to get stressed out about the mess and the work that this is going to take to recover from, but it’s also easy to be grateful that it wasn’t worse. The chickens are certainly going to enjoy their upgraded digs. As the WH surveyed the carnage, he pointed out three trees that he’d been planning to take down in the next year anyway. Now he just had a little help doing it. Sometimes we need these reminders that for all our worry and stress, things can change on a dime, and can be completely taken out of our hands. Truly, the biggest problem to come out of all of this is that now, my kids think that cheesesteaks cooked over campfires are the best things ever and they can’t wait until I make them again.

Liz Pinkey is a contributing writer to the Times News. Her column appears weekly in our Saturday feature section.