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Monday, July 26, 2010

Hold Down the Fort!

By Jody Worsham July 2010
All rights reserved for Sumo Wrestling

Whenever my husband or I would leave our house, there was always the admonition to the other to “Hold down the Fort”. With six children, you had to or there wouldn’t be a fort when you got back.

I’m not sure how the phrase originated, possibly from some of those “Rent-a-Party” places that rent you those net enclosed inflatable forts. I’m sure the instructions included “Hold down the Fort for maximum propulsion through the air.” It could have come from pioneer days, but I doubt it.

This past weekend we went camping at our favorite spot; that place being an RV park with a cement drive-through pad, water, sewage, electrical, cable hook-ups, a pool, and a McDonald’s within two miles.

After setting up camp, hooking up the air conditioner, hot-water heater, and pulling out the awning, my husband was off to Sears for some serious tool shopping. “Hold down the fort while I’m gone”, his parting words as he spun out of the parking lot.

This was not a problem. The first six children were now grown and I only had the latest two children to contain in order to hold down the fort. The children were inside the trailer and I was sitting at the picnic table reading. If I tried to read in the trailer with the two children, I would soon get sea sick from all the rocking. Sixty-four jacks under the trailer cannot stop the trailer from bouncing and swaying under the pounding of their feet.

I noticed the storm clouds gathering. I gathered up card tables, lawn chairs, assorted towels, roller skates, fans, and bicycles and stored them next to the trailer under the awning. Then the wind hit.

The awning began trying to imitate a Kansas twister as I frantically, in my best imitation of Dorothy looking for Toto, alternately lowered first the left awning brace and then the right one. By the time I had gotten them down as far as I could, I was drenched and the awning was still trying to get to Oz.

The lightning was cracking overhead so I decided not to touch the metal braces anymore. The wind was trying to flip the awning over the top of the trailer. There was only one way to hold down the fort. I grabbed the flapping web strap used to roll up the awning and held on. For once I was glad I was packing a few extra pounds and could keep the awning in place.

Because the awning was now six feet from the trailer door, you couldn’t open the door. The children climbed up on the kitchen counter and were yelling at me through the window. I couldn’t hear what they were saying so I just smiled through my dripping hair to reassure them as I did battle with the awning.

The wind was picking up. From my 4-H training in handling horses, I remembered you were never to wrap the lead rope around your wrist in case the horse bolted dragging you along with him. I could just see a gust of wind ripping the awning off and sending me airborne with it through the trees.

I could see the next day's headlines “Senior Mom and Awning seen sailing due North during Storm”. I quickly unwrapped the web strap from my wrist and looped it under my rear using both hands to control the slack. I think I had seen this on a National Geographic Mt. Everest climb.

All the campsites and streets were now standing in six inches of water. The lightning was still cracking so I edged away from the aluminum picnic table although I don’t think it would have mattered since I was ankle deep in water anyway. I stood there grinning like an idiot (the children were still looking through the kitchen blinds every five minutes) soaked and hanging onto a strap in a hurricane and wondering why no one came to help.

After fifteen minutes the wind died down and it was just heavy rain. I tied the strap to the aluminum picnic table and waited for the rain to stop still being unable to raise the awning due to continued lightning. After another twenty minutes the rain stopped. I untied the strap from the table and raised the awning back to its pre-storm position, set the chairs back out to dry, and put on dry clothes.

A few minutes later my husband arrived back from Sears.
“Boy, that was some storm! I saw an awning flipped completely over a trailer just down from us and another one was bent completely into two pieces. I was surprised ours was still in tact.”

I don’t know why he was surprised. I said I would hold down the fort…and I did.

5 comments:

Stacey said...

Great story! Hope you dried off! :)

Marti said...

LOL! You have such great stories, Jody!

Sharon said...

What an experience! Jody, you literally held down the fort.And, you make it sound funny. I hope husband took you out for supper (not at McD) and bought you some flowers for all that effort.

Rose A. Valenta said...

That's sheer dedication, Jody!

Joanne said...

You have my admiration Jody! I would have been in tears!