Wednesday afternoon, a winter storm blew into the Dakotas. First rain, then freezing rain, then snow, then unrelentingly wind. The phone woke me around 6am, a call to notify us that Wesley's 7 am Chamber of Commerce meeting was canceled. I snuggled up under a quilt, cup of coffee in hand, and listed to our local radio station. Weekdays, Dwight is the morning announcer, before he heads off to work at his other job, running Knutson's Feed Store. He is a font of information, faithfully relaying the latest weather forecasts, road reports, school news, along with assorted schedules, cancellations, last minute changes, and other useful tidbits.
Around 6:30am, Dwight confirmed that school was closed, and Sheriff Molbert sternly called in to the station to advise absolutely no travel. I gleefully turned the radio off, and woke everybody up, including Laurie-Ann and Hampton (her preciously cute Yorkie puppy), staying with us for the work week.
"It's a Snow Day... We can't go anywhere!" Matthew eagerly planned a day of snowmen, snow balls, snow forts and snow angels until Wesley let had him poke his head out the front door into the blizzard. He quickly realized that inside was the best place to play.
Because we were up so early, we got a lot of tasks done. Wesley & Matthew put together some new furniture, Laurie-Ann sewed most of the day, and I cleaned off my desk and worked on the website. Surprisingly, we had electricity all day, and even the Internet worked until mid-afternoon.
Most of the pets enjoyed the event. The cats, Aimee and Abbie relished in the extra attention. Laurie-Ann's puppy Hampton happily played with Matthew in a fort they build in the living room, using quilts, pillows, and the big boxes from the new furniture. Our big dog Sox, used to spending his days roaming around outside, was anxious about the bad weather, and didn't like being cooped up inside.
As much as we enjoyed our unexpected break from our busy lives, I couldn't help but worry about ranchers out in the weather caring for their animals. A Dakota blizzard is also hazardous for people who become sick and can't get to the hospital, or those who find themselves without heat or electricity. For many, I'm sure this storm brought plenty of hardship, danger, and worry.
I thought of the homesteaders who first wintered on the open prairie, in little cabins with sod roofs and poor insulation. No running water or electricity, poor heat, and none of the modern conveniences that we take for granted. I imagine them huddled around a fireplace or wood stove, doing their best to care for their young children and their precious herds, wondering if they would live to see the end of the blizzard. Many pioneers left the prairie, due to the harsh weather and difficult circumstances. But, many chose to stay... building better homes, barns for their animals, schools and churches. In the midst of a Dakota blizzard, I am amazed at the perseverance and work ethic of our ancestors, in awe of what they must have endured.