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Column

Ginnie’s birthday storm

I always knew Ginnie was a special woman, but this is ridiculous.

We were leaving the movie theater in Burlington. I had taken Ginnie to “Crazy Rich Asians” for her birthday (excellent movie), and we were headed for dinner at Burlington’s finest restaurant overlooking the Mississippi. I checked my smartphone for messages and there were three severe storm warnings for Mt. Pleasant. The sun was shining and the pavement bone dry in Burlington. I took a look at the radar and it looked like someone threw up on the screen. Uh, oh. There was only one thing to do — continue on to dinner.

For an appetizer, I ordered fresh calamari. Ginnie crinkled her nose, “Eww,” but snarfed down her share. We watched in awe as a tug, pushing four barges, navigated BNSF’s draw bridge. After chicken bruschetta for Ginnie and fresh sea bass for me and, oh yes, killer chocolate birthday cake, we headed home, high on sugar and chocolate.

We could see lightening to the west, the direction we were headed. For the heck of it, I called my son in Mt. Pleasant to see if it had rained.

“Go back!” he hollered in the phone. “The power’s off, trees and power lines are down, it’s a mess here! Just turn around and go back, you might not make it!”

We continued on. Highway Patrol cars passed us, heading in the direction of Mt. Pleasant. We kept going. I had failed to shut the chickens up before we left.

The rain and wind started clobbering us before we were halfway home. The windshield wipers could barely keep up. The car was trying to hydroplane. Ginnie kept telling me to slow down. I noticed there were no lights on in the farm homes we were passing.

As we approached the Empty Nest Farm, there was no yard light to direct our path. I found our driveway, and headed for the garage, wind and rain rocking the car.

With the power off, the electric garage-door opener wouldn’t function. Thankfully, I had brought a hooded jacket. I pulled it on, got out of the car and, in blinding rain, fumbled with the key to unlock a door. A booming flash of thunder and lightening nearly cowered me, but I got the door open. I pulled the trip-cord on the garage door, and manually raised it. Rain nearly blew me over, but I got the car pulled in. We were safe in a dark home. Buddy was buried in a closet. I found flashlights and, in a break in the rain, headed out to check on Blossom, our heifer calf, and the chickens.

Blossom was out! She was standing outside her pen, in the dark, seemingly confused. Fortunately, I was able to get her back in and secure for the night. In the mayhem, she had somehow managed to get a gate unchained and pushed open. I would fix those gates in the morning. The chickens were all accounted for and safe up high in their hen house, roosting, but full of burring warnings. Whitey, our brood hen, was sitting tight on her dozen fertilized eggs. All was safe on the Empty Nest Farm. Now it was just a matter of waiting out the storm and dark night.

Sometime later the power flickered a couple of times but came back on.

In the morning there was 3.5 inches of rain in the rain gauge. I have never seen that much rain in the gauge. It characteristically reads low. Official reports indicated six inches of rain. Facebook was full of storm-disaster pictures and stories. Fortunately, no one was killed at the Old Thresher’s Campground in Mt. Pleasant.

Ginnie has brought a calming of the storms in my life. But weather-wise, it was some birthday celebration, one we will both remember. “When was that storm? Oh, yes. Ginnie’s birthday.”

Contact Curt Swarm at 319-217-052
or curtswarm@yahoo.com

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