Friday, September 30, 2011

Summertime and the Living is Easy... NOT!

Despite the snow on June 20th, summer did finally arrive. Briefly.

In truth, we really went from winter to spring to fall. In fact, now that I think about it, there actually was no summer this year. It really was winter, monsoon season (also known as spring), and it almost went straight back to winter. After all, there was snow again on the peaks nearby in early September, and it snowed at the cabin (though it did not stick) in mid September.

Yet even the spring / summer did not go any smoother. Despite my high hopes that "if I just survived the winter, I'd be okay..." Clearly God has a really good sense of humor....

As at the beginning of June, I got a phone call from my neighbors in the ski resort -- you might want to get here fast. There's a wildfire, and they are evacuating every one.

We raced over there to discover flames licking greedily at the ground not 100 feet from the back of the townhouses. Having grown up on the East Coast, in an area where wild fires are not just not a common occurrence, but don't really happen at all, it was surreal.

I stood on the back patio, and stared at.... fire. At flames higher than the trees, the roof tops, than anything I had seen except in movies. I looked at the townhouse and felt helpless. What could I do? What could I even take? If the flames hit the buildings, there was no way to remove everything.

I offered help to my neighbors, who have a child, cat, dog -- all things that absolutely needed packing up and evacuating. And I looked at my home, filled with "stuff" -- even though some of that stuff was irreplaceable paintings by my now-deceased mother -- I knew I really had nothing that I could evacuate. I grabbed one small painting, put it in the truck, and just stared....

The fire trucks finally moved in, started spraying water, and we watched, dumbfounded, shocked, silent. The flames moved closer to the far building, but the winds continued blowing from the best possible direction, and so we kept watching....

About the time my neighbors pulled out the PBR cans, the sheriff's deputy finally asked us (politely!) to evacuate out of the way. We drove to the highway (about a mile away), pulled over, and watched the black smoke billow. Helplessly. Finally realizing there was no point, and driving back to the cabin with the one painting and our fingers crossed....

Thankfully the winds stayed in the right direction, the firefighters worked their tail off, and the fire was extinguished without a single structure burning down. I thank them wholeheartedly for their hard work and efforts.

And I thought it would be quiet for a while....

Yet exactly one week later, I was pulled off the couch by the phone ringing... This time, it was an "auto call" from the Sheriff's office -- announcing a "voluntary evacuation due to potential flooding".... Seems the main -- make that only -- road out of the immediate area was in danger of being washed out due to the heavy spring run off... Worried about all of the residents in this far off area being stranded, the Sheriff thought we should get out.

I headed up to the road over the River in the pouring rain. Stood around with the Sheriff and his deputies, and several residents of the nearby town, and we stared at the River quickly rising behind the road. There is a "culvert" (a large metal pipe basically) underneath the road to allow the River to flow under and on its way, but several trees and tree trunks had washed down the River and were now plugging the culvert. The water continued to rise....

I did a mental calculation: Alcohol, check. Movies, check. Books, check. Food, check.

Yeah, I was good. I trudged home in the rain....

Two hours later, when the heavy rain stopped, I hiked back up to look again. The water had stabilized thanks to some intermediate efforts to budge a few of the trees, allowing a bit more water through.

I headed over to the sheriff: "Can you believe this?" He asked me. "I went door to door in the town, hit the town's mayor's house and explained the issue. He looked at me, scratched his chin, and said 'Well, if we get trapped, you'll just airlift in beer, right?'"

God I love this place!

I trudged home in the drizzle, snorting to myself....

And just a few days later, I woke up to the 6 inches of snow....

God I hate this place!

But thankfully, it actually did quiet down after that morning of snow, and a power line going down... I was finally able to focus on all the work needed to be done during clear weather -- all the work to repair all the damage done from the winter.

So I suppose "quiet" is a relative term.... After all, the weather stopped bothering me (at least in this area -- when I traveled home to the East Coast to see family, I experienced the earthquake, hurricane, and then a "mud tornado" for lack of a better term on the drive back to the cabin....), but there was a TON of work to do, so really, it's just relative...

And then, it was still September, and it started to snow again.

That night, the night it snowed again as I was walking the dogs -- the night I found myself in my winter jacket with mittens and a hat on -- well, that night I did not cry, though I did pour a big drink, instead I prayed. To God, to Mother Nature, to whomever the heck was listening and had the power to do something -- and I asked (ever so politely, at least I tried to ask politely, if one can accept a few swear words mixed in as polite) for an Indian Summer. That I was NOT ready for winter, had so much more work to do repairing all the damage from the past winter, and could I please -- pretty please! -- have more time. Thank you.

KKMF. Amen.

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