Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day One with Author Janet Spaeth!

Background of the Book

DSC00044photo © 2008 John Martinez Pavliga more info (via: Wylio)Winter in North Dakota makes its presence known with enthusiasm. When the first person shouts, "It's snowing!" we all gallop to the window to watch those lovely flakes. By the end of February, we don't have the same joyous tone when we look outside and sigh, "It's snowing."

So you'd think we'd be anxious for spring to make its appearance, right?

Yes-and no.

Spring is the time of robins and daffodils and lilacs. But it's also the time, up here, of floods.

We're nervous this year. And well we should be.

We watch the predictions and the forecasts with practiced eyes. We know what a crest is. We know how to fill sandbags in an assembly line. We know what sewer backup is. And we worry.

I don't want to go through this again. It nearly broke my heart last time - nearly.

There were people who saved us. The family 80 miles away who opened their home to us. The bank that helped us when our was underwater and our records were unavailable. The grocery store employees who helped us find milk - we were shocked we couldn't even navigate the aisles.

And the volunteers. There were so many of them.

The Salvation Army understood our need for a social environment and let us gather at the center they'd set up in that town 80 miles away. They allowed us to help sort donations, knowing that we needed something to focus on when the news from our community was so bad. They provided newspapers and updates and hot coffee and caring smiles, and when we were allowed to go back to our homes to clean them out, their mobile unites came by with food.

I'll always remember the Red Cross volunteer who, when she found out my daughter was celebrating her 7th birthday away from home, got her a beautiful necklace as a gift. It was such a thoughtful gesture from someone who cared deeply about this upset little girl.

Denominations from around the country showed up, helping to rebuild, and providing basics like laundry detergent (which was like gold at the time - hard to get!) and toilet paper and shampoo. I can't begin to name them all, but they were extraordinary.

I wrote In the Cool of the Evening as my thank you to these wonderful volunteers.

It's been fourteen years since I was flooded out of my home, and I have a tradition that I've passed on to my children - a tradition that came from this flood.

As soon as the first Salvation Army bell rings, I load up every body's pocket with change. We never, ever, ever pass a bell ringer without dropping in some change. Even if we pass them on the way in and the way out, we drop in some money. Each coin that goes in is accompanied with a prayer of thanksgiving and gratitude.

This spring, we're keeping a wary eye on the Red, buying flood insurance, and praying, because even if it isn't our community, our home, it's going to be somebody's community, somebody's home.

And through it all, we'll rejoice in the first robin's call and the first tulip that pokes its head through the snow-weary garden, because that will mean it is, after all, spring.

At some point in time someone has experienced a tragedy in their life. Often times the community reaches out to those families. What are some things you have learned from that tragedy that you still carry with you today?


  1. Hi Janet!

    I always give to the bell ringers so much so, that I'm disappointed it one isn't on duty when I'm going in or coming out of the store.

    Crossing my fingers the flooding isn't bad this year.

  2. Have never experienced tragedy like that. However, one of the best Thanksgivings I ever had was when a friend and I canvassed the neighborhood to get donations for a family whose house had burned down. It was a blessing to do that.

  3. Rose, my friend! Your comment warms my heart! The Salvation Army will always be special to me for how they reached out to us.

    Jackie S--what a wonderful thing for you and your friend to do! And isn't it great how the act of giving blesses both the giver and recipient?