When I was teaching English at the Université de Bordeaux, my parents sent me a collection of cassettes from the radio program “A Prairie Home Companion” for my birthday. It was a touch of home I very much appreciated, and I even turned one monologue about Thanksgiving into a reading and culture lesson for one of my classes. One of the “Winter” pieces was entitled “Storm Home,” and detailed how when Garrison Keillor was growing up in Minnesota, the kids who didn’t live in town were assigned a Storm Home where they would stay if the weather came up while they were in school and it was unsafe to go back to their own homes. Mr.Keillor built up a beautiful, somewhat wistful image in his mind of what his storm family might be like, how they would treat him (“Why, it’s our storm child!”), and why they would be happy to take in a child they had never met.
Sunday morning, I acquired my own storm home. While shoveling out my driveway, I saw my neighbor across the street approaching, as she often does if we are both out at the same time. She asked if I had power (No.) and heat (Also no.) and then told me she had fired up her wood stove and closed off her living room and I was welcome any time (and throughout the winter as well). I thanked her and warned her that I am often home pretty late from school (which she probably already knew, come to think of it) and asked how late at night I could safely knock. “Oh, even two in the morning is fine.” she said. “Just try calling first in case I don’t hear the knocking.”