The storm pushed against the farmhouse making it creak. The hand-hewn pegged beams held firm as they had for more than 150 years. The five giant maple trees at the road bore the storm as they had for almost 200 years. Their thick trunks barely moved as the top-most branches bent in the wind. The family sat at the kitchen table listening to the storm as they played cards.
“I’ve got the two of clubs.”
“Let’s see who has the queen of spades. Hunt that rabbit!”
“I’m going to run them.”
“No more points for me. I can’t afford any. I’m close to going over.”
The banter was light. It helped pass the time as the storm intensified outside. Winds gusted erratically causing the house to shudder a moment. The family heard a loud “CRACK” outside and the lights went out.
“Sounds like a limb broke and took the power lines down with it.” Dad said.
Mom got up and lit two hurricane lamps and set them on the table. The kids continued to play cards in the glowing light. Mom then moved to stoke the fire in the wood cook stove. It was more than 80 years old and had a large flat surface and an oven they had once used to roast a holiday turkey. She added some small diameter birch sticks with a few larger maple pieces. The fire responded quickly and the room warmed comfortably.
Mom took a large cooking pot and thumped a chunk of homemade butter into it. She added what sounded like little pellets next and put the cover on. Applying a gentle rocking motion she used to soothe countless babies to sleep, she gently moved the pot to prevent the kernels from sticking and burning.
After a few moments, they began to burst inside the pot, launching others around inside like bullets that pinged off the steel. The cacophony grew for less than a minute before settling under the muffling caused by the popped corn. When the activity slowed to sporadic bursts, she slid the pot off the hottest area of the cooking surface and carefully lifted the top allowing a plume of steam and aroma to escape.
She poured the popcorn into a few other bowls and placed them around the table. Card playing slowed for several minutes as the family grabbed handfuls of the buttery and crunchy treat.
“Still hunting the queen. I wonder who is getting stuck with it.”
“Not me. I’m not taking any more tricks this hand.”
“Let’s find out. Play.”
The storm continued outside. The family never worried about it as they sat in the kitchen.
Safe. Warm. Together.