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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • A different kind of spring storm

  • Is it just me, or have the bugs arrived sooner this year?


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  • Being a lifelong resident of northwestern Minnesota, I've experienced my share of storms, although apparently not too many because I am still here in relatively one piece. As long as I'm not out and about in it – which has foolishly been the case a handful of times – the winter variety is generally easier for me and my family to deal with.
     
        While crippling and confining when it does hit, a winter storm is usually well predicted – OK, over predicted more times than not – so we have time to run and stock up on everything we could possibly need for a week's time, just in case we're trapped at home for that long. Then, we cozy up in front of the fireplace or under a layer of blankets and take the opportunity to catch up on last season's shows on the DVR. There is that dread in the back of our minds of all the shoveling and snow-blowing necessary when it's all over, but we still feel safe while listening to the wind howl and watching our wooden deck become higher and whiter. The advance notice also gives all those in charge of events, schools, churches, etc. to cancel or postpone whatever's going on so no one has to travel in it.
     
        Warm weather storm systems are different. You're not necessarily safe in your home, or wherever you are, for that matter. Tornados, though rare, are always a possibility. Even strong winds can be highly destructive, which we discovered one August more than a decade ago with an incident that also instilled in us the value of having good insurance.
     
        I have been known to cower in fear when roaring thunder rattles the house and lightning flashes fill the sky moments later. While the chances of being struck dead from lightning in the confines of a sheltered building are miniscule, I still play it safe by staying as far away from the windows as possible. And when the sirens blare? I'm a freaking (out) basket case.
     
        Most people think blizzards, snow/sleet storms, rain/hail/wind storms and tornados are the only kinds of storms we come across in Minnesota and North Dakota, but I beg to differ, having personally made it through two other varieties. Although I consider all storms extremely unpleasant acts of nature, these types of storms are downright repulsive because they involve living creatures.
     
        Hubby and I experienced a particularly harrowing squall of this kind only a few nights ago while driving in the Devil's Lake, N.D. area, some 130 miles away from here and with vastly different topography. We've become somewhat familiar with this countryside, since our daughter's good friend moved to Maddock about 40 miles southwest of the city, several years ago from Crookston. We end up visiting there at least a couple of times a year, sometimes meeting in DL or at the nearby Spirit Lake Casino, sometimes going all the way to their little town.
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        The occasion for this weekend's visit was Delores's 16th birthday, which also happened to be her school music department's big spring event, a dessert theatre. She was very excited for all of us to attend her first one as a high schooler, and seeing how it fell on her birthday so Gabi could celebrate this very special one with her, we were happy to oblige. Kent and I took the opportunity to stay alone in a room at the casino, which was right on the way to Maddock, while Gabi spent the night at her friend's house before we went back and picked her up the next day.
     
        Alas, our pleasant evening didn't extend to our drive back to the casino, at least once we were again near the lake. As Kent drove along the winding rode, I noticed a few bugs hitting the windshield rather vigorously. Before we knew it, the glass was blanketed with a thick layer of the big ugly things, which were coming at us by the thousands. We could barely see a thing! He had to steadily run the wipers, which momentarily totally blinded us due to the film of bug juice squishing all over. Only when we were on tree-lined curves did the squall ebb slightly.
     
        Kent, who's usually extremely calm when it comes to driving, was growing more apprehensive by the minute. "I can't see! Aackk! Headlights, they're making it all worse! God help us!" This left me attempting to be the calm, cool, collected one. Me? Calm in a storm? Hah!
     
        As we neared our destination, traffic, both vehicle and bug, increased, making it even more difficult to push on. We couldn't go too slow or those following close behind surely would've hit us. Although those casino lights were even more of a hinderance to our view on, they were the most beautiful, relieving sight we'd seen in a while.
     
        From there, the bug traffic stopped and we made it safely to our room. It rained all night there, thus clearing the windshield enough for clarity through it, although the front end still has a glaze of brown bumps glued to it that I suspect will need a good scrubbing with special solvent to appear normal again. The bug storm was gone when we went back the next day, so it must be one of those things that only happens at night.
     
        Remind me not to ever go near the lake at night again.
     

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