We spent the first part of the 4th of July prepping for the torrential downpour and thunderstorms that were the outer edges of Hurricane Arthur. The weather hysterics on TV were calling for one to three inches of rain. Sandbags had to be wedged against the backdoor of Silk’s stall so it wouldn’t flood. The ditch needed weed-whacking to allow the run-off to not pool up in the corral. The compost pile got tarped otherwise it would get too wet to cure properly. Horses received a treat of some hay laced with alfalfa that I’ve been saving for a rainy day. By noon, we were ready for the worst.
As I sat in my papa’s comfy chair, anxiously watching the grey sky, I thought about all the huge storms we’ve had in the nine years that we’ve lived here. I will be the first to admit that I hate thunderstorms. I grew up outside of Chicago, where the tornadoes flowed by often, and I spent a lot of my childhood down in the basement waiting for the worst to pass over.
The first summer that we moved here to New England, my husband was out of town for almost a month. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when a big thunderstorm rolled in, and I ran out to bring the horses into the barn for safety. Almost as soon as I reached the house, there was a brilliant flash of white light and an explosion like a bomb going off in our pasture. Lightening struck the pine tree between our property and our neighbor’s and it caught on fire. The current travelled on the wire embedded in the flexible fence of the pasture down towards the house, shattering the fence post by the gate and snaking like a web into our electric system. It blew out not only the lights but fried my computer, the coffee pot, the ceiling fan, the microwave and the television.
My attention was on the blazing pine tree. While my neighbor ran from her house with a gigantic fire extinguisher, I called 911 and reported the fire. We live in a land where there are no fire hydrants, and the rural volunteer firemen have to drop whatever they are doing and run to the rescue. About ten minutes later, a puttering little old VW bug made its way down our long driveway. A high school kid in a lifeguard uniform emerged in his swim trunks, opened the trunk and began donning his fireman’s outfit. By then, my neighbor and I had taken care of the burning tree and only the smoldering fence post remained. Eventually, the rest of the firemen arrived. The chief warned me that there is a lot of iron in our soil, and that our street had frequent lightening strikes. He advised that we get some lightening rods for the roof and the barn. Almost ten years later, and two hurricanes behind us, I can attest that he was correct but we have never installed the lightening rods. They aren’t cheap. It’s on my list.
So today, we appear to have been given a lucky pass by Arthur. In remembering those volunteer firemen, I began thinking about how we really should also be celebrating Interdependence Day today. There are also the volunteer EMT’s on-call down at the local ambulance garage, and the volunteer aides at my mom’s nursing home. One of the nurses that I know retired recently after 40 years at the nursing home, and two days later, she began coming back as a volunteer. We live in a land where people still do take care of each other, but we don’t hear about it often enough. Mostly, we hear about the arguing and the fighting and the random violence. Instead of blowing things up this 4th of July, maybe we all ought to try hugging each other.
My horses would appreciate that more. They hate fireworks.