1995

“AN ISOLATED THUNDERSTORM OR TWO CAN NOT BE RULED OUT,” says the National Weather Service. Perhaps it’s just me, but I find that statement rather humorous in the context of the rest of the forecast. Maybe someone in the office does have a sense of humor.

A lot of people have been comparing this “storm” with 1995, and so far I have been unimpressed. Yes, it has rained. Yes, it has been windy. But that’s been about it. A fair amount of rain, for sure. But giant trees haven’t been uprooted across the road like matchsticks, the power has yet to go out, it’s still possible to leave town, and, altogether, I remain in a state of non-awe. This is not a storm as I remember storms. This is just winter.

The wind did come up a bit this morning, and it reminded me of an incident that occurred in 1995, when we lived in Caspar, the Tin Palace days. This was on the second or third day of the storm–the power had not actually gone out yet, and my father had gotten home late from the hotel. (And encountered a lot of danger, too, like live power lines across the road.) In these days, I still slept on the couch because my bedroom on the north side of the house was freezing.

I woke up because something felt…wrong. I heard something dripping and felt more exposed than usual. The Tin Palace is a lot what it sounds like–a house built of tin. And the roof was composed of single sheets of tin nailed onto braces (a thoughtful soul interspersed corrugated plastic sheets here and there which acted like skylights). In the winter, the rain sounded like nails on the roof–sometimes it was so loud, you couldn’t even hear yourself shout. So I lay on the couch, awake, and I looked up at the familiar and soothing pattern of the roof, wooden braces and metal and…clouds? A section of the roof had come off.

At this point I was up like a shot, onto the heavy Persian carpet next to the couch, which was soaking wet. More than soaking wet, really, a pool of water stretched out across the floor into the dim reaches of the house. A well trained bibliophile, I promptly began to rescue books from low shelves and pile them on the table, while shouting upstairs:

“Dad! DAD!”
“What? I know it’s stormy, go back to sleep.”
“No, GET UP!”
“We’ll do something in the morning, I’m exhausted, go back to sleep.”
“No, get up, there’s a lake in the living room!”

At this, my father must have rolled over and looked up, and then recoiled in horror, because most of the roof over his upstairs bedroom was…gone.

“Are you saving the books?”
“YES!”

As I recall, after moving the books to safety, we stretched a tarpaulin over the roof in the pouring rain and wind, and went to the hardware store the next day for new sheeting during a break in the storm. We crawled back up on the roof, hammers in hand, and replaced the missing portions in the howling wind. We also took a walk around Caspar that day and found many pieces of our roof scattered about. One was surrounded by a group of cows who appeared to be engaged in some sort of worship behaviour. It was the last car ride we took for a long time–a tree came down square across Caspar Road, the power went out, and the bridge flooded, as did the duck pond, so we had nowhere to go for over a week. During brief breaks in the storm, we would wander around Caspar and survey the damage, which was quite impressive, and then we would go home and make hot chocolate on the gas stove with our dwindling milk supplies, and then wash the dishes in water we collected and stored on the woodstove. It was quite cozy, actually.

Now that was a storm.

[storm]
[Caspar]