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2009-09-17 digital edition

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2009-09-17 / Community News

Extreme Weather

You don't really know people until you see what they do when extreme weather hits. In fact, you may not know yourself until you see what you'll do under those kinds of circumstances.

I've led a pretty uneventful life, so, to me, "extreme" isn't necessarily life-threatening or debilitating. "Extreme" may simply mean something I'd never encountered before, which isn't hard to come by on account of my uneventful life.

Our town was doing a Springfest. It included the requisite balloon-blowing clowns and face painting, but most importantly, for our attendance, was the free food. I will go out of my way to attend a function that means I don't have to cook. So, of course, as soon as I found out about it, I put it at the top of my Things To Do list.

The day was breezy and warm, just the perfect day for a town picnic. Many people showed up for the festivities. There were chairs and tables set among the trees with colorful plastic tablecloths blowing gently in the breeze. There were tents for the different activities and refreshments. There was even a DJ playing "old people music" as my son called it. I guess it's a sign of my age that I enjoyed it.

Because so many people came, the lines for the activities were long. My husband stood in line for the food and I stood in line with the kids to get Identification Packages made for each one. The local police were running that activity. My children only stood there with me because there was a basket full of candy to choose from when they were done.

It wasn't long before the breeze turned into wind and the tablecloths needed to be held down with rocks, balloons started flying out of the clown's hands, and the tents made funny popping noises as they flapped up and down.

I watched a tiny boy, about knee-high to a grasshopper, leaning into the wind and concentrating hard so he would not fall down.

Still we stood in line. My husband made it to the front of the food line first and fixed us all a plate of hamburger or hot dog, chips, a drink and a brownie. If I had known they had brownies, the Identification Packages would have had to wait.

I no sooner arrived at the picnic table, when the wind picked up another couple of notches and it started to pour cats and dogs. We ran to one of the smaller tents as I desperately tried to hang on to my food. The wind was now blowing so hard that we had to hold down the tent. I was holding my drink in one hand and my plate of food in the other, trying to capture a potato chip or two with my mouth before they all flew out of my plate.

Not to fear, one huge blast of wind dumped the contents of my plate onto my chest. No need to worry about those chips any longer. They were whirling away in tornado-force winds along with the multi-colored tablecloths and folding chairs. My eleven-year old son was jumping up and down and cheering like he was at the World Series, my daughter plastered herself to my back trying to stay warm and I was gamely trying to trap my hamburger and brownie on my chest, firmly resolved that should one have to go, I was going to save the brownie first.

In order to use both hands for this feat, I placed my full drink on my now empty plate and put them down on a table. Bad move. The wind picked up the plate and promptly tossed the contents of my Styrofoam cup into the face of my six-year old. He was not happy…but I had my hamburger and brownie!

I looked back at my husband. He was hanging on to two sides of the tent, holding his styrofoam cup with his teeth, and doing his best to shelter his family from the storm. What a picture he made! He looked like he was flying through a hurricane attached to a hang glider. My very own Indiana Jones. What a man!

At some point during the maelstrom, we decided to make a run for our nice, dry car. At the very least, the rain would rinse the Coke off my child's face.

While my husband recruited some other tent-holders, my children and I took off for the car, only to find out that all the windows were open. So much for a nice, dry car. My hamburger was now unrecognizable and my brownie was nothing more than a chocolate sponge.

When my husband finally showed up, he wiped his face with his soggy shirt and exclaimed, "It's amazing what we'll go through just so we don't have to cook!"

You can reach Laura at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com Or visit her website www.lauraonlife.com for more columns and info about her books.

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