Continued from Episode Five, A Blustery Day, Part 1…
Amazingly, the three little girls slept peacefully in the middle of the floor while the wind whipped our tent high over our heads. Dad and Joel were outside with a flashlight trying to re-tie the temporary ropes that had snapped. The Indians had a clever way to secure the canvas that was effective but time consuming. They would wrap a section of canvas over a small stone, then tie sinew around the bulge and anchor it to a stake at the base of each pole. As his fingers grew cold and then numb, Dad fiddled with the lengths of string and marbles we had prepared yet hadn’t had a chance to install yet. Joel held the flashlight and tried to keep the canvas still for Dad. The task was made doubly hard by the wind, which continually ripped the edge of the canvas out of their stiff hands.
Inside, Mom had begun to sing praise songs and Jordan and I joined in, trying to keep up our spirits. It was hard to sing with my teeth clenched to keep from shivering from fright and cold. I could just imagine the canvas breaking free from the remaining bits of twine and flying up over the tree tops like a conical parachute. I had squeezed my fistfuls of canvas tighter at the thought, and my knuckles grew white.
I don’t know how long it took to get the canvas to quit its wild dance, nor how many praise choruses we half sang, half cried as we struggled against the elements. The memories of that night are among my worst, and reliving them has been sobering. Neither Mom nor I wrote many details in our journals, probably trying to forget it as soon as possible. I do remember that we eventually got back to bed, Dad having done his best with the tie-down effort, and we slept, though fitfully.
We found out later that the wind had reached gusts of 60 miles an hour that night. We hoped that was the worst weather we would encounter, and that it would never happen again. But the very next morning as Dad was frying pancakes – a special treat to cheer us up – the wind picked up again. Plates and forks were dropped and we jumped to our stations. Once again Dad went out in the cold wind and sleet. This time he had day light working for him. He and Joel got it tied down and this time it held.Eventually the sun came out, but the wind continued all day, chasing huge puffy clouds across the bright spring sky.
I did not go outside, though. All day I sat in the rocker, my ears plugged to block the sound of the wind roaring around us, praying – pleading with God to make it stop. Mom believes I was in shock, and both of us had a holy terror of windy days from then on. Even after we were cozily settled inside solid log walls in the cabin, whenever the wind picked up, Mom and I would often get sick to the stomach. It was years before I could enjoy thunderstorms again, having felt so helpless and exposed during those months in the tipi on top of that windy hill.
Continued in Episode Seven: Spring on the Homestead