Once upon a time I lived in Washington State. Eastern Washington State. And once upon a time, a big volcano erupted. Two days before my 6th birthday, to be exact.
We happened to be visiting family friends in Spokane the weekend that it happened. Spokane being the metropolis located a few hours north of our rural Tri-Cities.
When the mountain blew up at 8:30 that morning, nobody thought much about it. Thought the big boom we all heard was the sound of one of the friends' children falling out of bed upstairs. Even though said child denied it fiercely...
So we loaded up in the motorhome (yeah, Dad was a true man of the '70s back then) and we shuffled off for home - and drove right into the pitch black ash cloud.
I remember my mom packing my brother and I under the table in the back of the motorhome - stuffing pillows and blankets all around us in case we had a horrid crash - because no one knew what it was we were driving into.
We had recently moved to Washington from California so my dad could work at Hanford.
My mother thought perhaps one of the reactors had blown up and we were in a nuclear hollocaust.
We were stopped along what was then a two-lane highway in an itty-bitty town called Ritzville. We were some of the lucky ones - we actually had a hotel room to escape the ash - lots of others who were stopped after us had to camp out in the high school gym.
A true disaster situation.
But the ash cloud - that was a big black hole - in every sense of the word. So thick and black that it completely blacked out the sun, street lights, anything and everything. You could barely see your hand in front of your face.
So we huddled together in our hotel room - mom and dad in one and my brother and I in an adjoining room.
What stands out most in my memory from that awful night wasn't the scare of the big unknown - the fear of what had happened to our home or if we would ever make it home.
No, it was the fact that my mother kept trying to put my brother and I to bed. Early. Like, four in the afternoon early. Her rationale - it's dark out kids, time for bed.
Nice try. We could read clocks by age almost-six and eight.
But now I understand. I totally get why mom wanted us to go to bed at four in the afternoon.
I've been at home with my loving, sweet, dear children.
For a full twenty-four hours. gasp
In the ice and snow - so much ice and snow that school has been canceled for two days straight. There is no end in sight. And although all three want to go outside and play - being southern kids - we just aren't equipped for wet snow play - and no sooner do they get started making snow angels or a few balls rolled to make a snowman - then they're screaming and crying that they're cold. Because the cold wet has seeped through their clothes, all the way through to their undies, as evidenced by their bright red, cold, wet skin when we strip them down to warm up inside.
Poor little things.
Three little ones. Cooped up indoors. Way too much energy. No place to go. Not the grocery store. Not the library. Not a friends' house - because the roads are really bad. Really bad. Especially for Southern drivers who have no clue how to operate motor vehicles in inclement weather (which is why the City has pretty much shut down.) With only the company of each other to play with, argue with, bicker with...
Darkness has fallen. It's 6:15 as I'm starting this post.
Is it too early for bed?
If I use my mother's rationale that it's dark outside - will they buy it?