The Wind She Blew

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This past weekend, most of my mom’s family gathered in Bozeman to celebrate my Grandma Peg Kuntz’s 90th birthday.  We met in Bozeman because it’s a central spot for the family to meet; westerners came from Missoula and Dillon and easterners came from Miles City and, well, Ingomar.  Grandma didn’t want a big shindig for her birthday; instead, her wish was to have her whole family together.  And we were close to having the whole family at the party; I’m starting to think here in my less-idealic 30s that We really never will have everyone in the same place again.  There are just too many schedules and lives to correlate.  Thus, that ever-elusive photo of Grandma with all the great-grandkids remains elusive.  In fact, in the photo above, we’re even missing some who came but had to leave early.

It was a wonderful celebration of Grandma’s 90 years.  We — her kids, their spouses, grandkids and spouses, great-grandkids, even her sister-in-law — met at a nice hotel in Bozeman; those of us from out of town stayed the night.  It could not have been a more ideal location for a multi-generational bash.  There was a swimming pool for the great-grandkids.  There was libation for the drinkers.  A caterer served us in a banquet room, where we remained for a lengthy round of toasts, story-telling, and entertainment provided by family members.  My niece Taylor played “Happy Birthday” on her guitar, my talented college-age cousin Morgan serenaded us with her fiddle, tiny great-grandkids sang songs, and my own kids did a skit based on a story Grandma wrote about when she was a girl in the ’30s.

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Grandma was radiant as she enjoyed her tribute.  At 90 years old, she still loves to shop and have her hair fixed, and she’s no doubt the best-dressed among us.

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Here she is with her three kids.  I think she really values having all three of them in one place.  I can’t say I blame her.  I don’t even want to imagine what it’ll be like when my own kids grow up and move away.  I’ll probably just count down the days ’til the next holiday when we can all be together again, right where we’re supposed to be.

God bless my future daughter-in-law and sons-in-law.

Concerning the title, the Saturday during which we all traveled to Bozeman was an extremely windy day throughout the entire state.  The windiest part of our own route was actually not going through the Bozeman Pass, as one might expect, but close to home — between Custer and Billings.  Beau was driving, and it was a good thing, because even he had a hard time keeping our pickup on the road.

Our immediate family traveled to Bozeman (about three hours from my folks’ home) in three vehicles:  my sister and niece left early in the morning to hit the ski slopes before the party; my parents left next and picked up Grandma along the way; and Beau, after a morning of feeding cows at the VX, picked me and our kids and our nephew up at my folks’ home about noon.  As we were loading to leave my folks’ — late as usual — we heard a disturbing metallic scream over the howl of the wind.  Can you find the problem?

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Yup, the wind peeled the tin roof off the horse barn as we watched.  Thankfully Dad was already a long ways down the road to the party when this happened.  If he’d been home, I’m not sure Mom would’ve been able to get him to leave in light of the disaster.  As it was, Beau and I kept our lips sealed all weekend on the barn secret… for fear Dad would immediately drive home upon hearing the news to organize the fixing of the roof.

The wind blew at our cow camp, too, over the weekend.  We were gone Saturday and Sunday.  We pulled back in to the VX at about 11 p.m. Sunday night — after a marathon $900 grocery-buying spectacle in Billings on the way home — and as our headlights flashed up the lane, we discovered that a big tub used to store Christmas decorations, which had been hanging out on the deck, had blown off the deck and scattered its contents from here to the next county east of here.

Ugh.  I just hate that feeling — when you’re not exactly sure what all you just lost.  You see, I’m not too sure what was in that tub.

Luckily I haven’t gotten around to putting away the Christmas decorations yet, so I think the tub was mostly filled with tissue for wrapping breakables.  The greasewood out in the pasture between our home and the county road certainly was adequately decorated with tissue paper that had caught flight when the tub spilled.  We found the lid to the tub down in the creek.  And we did find this stocking frozen to the ground out in the yard:

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In related news, Beau will concur with my report that I have become an extremely nervous traveler.  I’ll have you know I have done quite a bit of traveling in my day.  I’ve flown many times.  I commuted 60 miles to work daily for three years.  I’ve driven to Alabama and back to Montana twice.  Many miles I’ve driven, many miles I’ve sat in the passenger seat as my husband navigated us to our destination.  And I was never an anxious traveler until recently.

And I do mean anxious.  The entire trip to Bozeman this past weekend, while Beau drove, I had to look down at my lap… because if I looked up, I felt like we were careening at 130 miles per hour, like the semi we were passing was drifting into our lane, like the oncoming traffic was eastbound on the westbound road.  The whole way up.  The whole way back.  I was a nervous wreck in the passenger seat, complete with the good ol’ heart-jumping-into-my-throat feeling every time there was an unusual sound or a sudden movement.  I may have been better off in the driver’s seat… but Beau wasn’t about to let me drive while I was behaving in such a manner.

What’s happening?  Am I turning into a middle-aged mom?  Is this how women end up driving their men everywhere — because they can’t stand sitting in the passenger seat?  Have the screaming babies and the talkative pre-schoolers combined with the howling wind to drive me over the edge?

(Truth be told, I really do think motherhood might be the problem here.  Since having kids — probably because each of them has sincerely hated the carseat for the first 18 months of life — I’ve felt this overwhelming certainty every time I’ve traveled with them that It’s crazy to have these kids out on the road!  We should all be at home in the living room!  We’re safe in the living room!)

Is this just what happens when you move to North Ingomar and most of your traveling is on a dirt road at 40 mph?  You get out in the real world and you feel like everyone is going entirely too fast?

Or is my road anxiety a symptom of a deeper psychological issue?  I’ll let you know if I figure it out.

Or maybe I’ll just never go anywhere again and that will be my solution.

But it was a fun party.  And I’d hate to miss out on Grandma’s 95th in five years.

© Tami Blake

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