Like a Prairie Storm

There has been sickness at our house. Not as much sickness as Sarah and her family but a strange, cough-led illness descended a few weeks ago. SA’s mom had it. Then I got it. Then his dad got it. Yesterday, SA’s mom and dad attempted to leave our chilly province and go back to their own hot one. Meanwhile we attempted to make them stay forever by holding their ID hostage in the backseat of my dad’s car while he drove around town with his cell phone off. We almost succeeded; they missed their plane. But then the dastardly Westjet foiled us and gave them excellent customer service so they got on a later flight. And my dad decided he didn’t want to be the villain anymore so he returned SA’s mom’s purse so she could go through security and get on the plane. And off they went, their suitcases far lighter having relinquished approximately 400 lbs of Winnie the Pooh books, one stuffed Tigger, one talking Ranger bear and one folding wooden rocking chair.

I had woken rejoicing in the knowledge that neither of my small dependents had been afflicted with The Hack as I’ve come to affectionately refer to it. (At one point last week I was up at 3 am feeding Fresco, coughing like a bingo queen, listening to SA’s parents lose pieces of their own lung tissue in separate rooms of the house. Anyone walking by would have thought we were a convalescent home.) But when Trombone descended the stairs yesterday morning, my heart sank a little. “How are you,” I said, eyeing his bright pink cheeks. “So good,” he said, his standard reply, but within two hours he was limp on the couch with fever.

It’s always amazing how quickly illness moves in to – and out of – small children. One minute they’re grumpy and bossy and the next you are regretting thinking of selling them to the highest bidder because oh, I see, they were getting sick.

It reminds me of the first prairie thunderstorm I witnessed, on a screened-in sun porch in Sarah’s dad’s house in Winnipeg. One minute we were drinking beer and feeling exceptionally hot and sweaty under a sky clear but for millions of mosquitoes trying to get us. The next, a huge cloud began rolling in. From somewhere near Alberta, it looked like, because that’s how far you can see if you look west from Winnipeg. The world shook with thunder and the sky blazed with lightning. Huge drops of rain battered the roof and walls of the sun porch. And in the time it took to have another swig of beer, the storm had moved on.

It was so cool. Hemmed in by mountains most of the time, I do love a good sky.

In my own lungs, I am hosting the Vancouver storm version of The Hack. 10 days on and I am pretty much cured except every morning I get up and sound like that old guy. You know the one; he’s been smoking for 60 years and he’s got entire colonies of little furry animals in his lungs and he clears his throat for about 45 minutes while he has his first cigarette of the day on his front porch. Just like every morning I get up and our skies are grey and cloudy and cool. Not quite storm, not quite summer. Not sick, not quite well. Somewhere in between.

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