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Tales from the Holler
Every Easter for the last few years, the
three of us gather around the microwave for the ceremonial puffed
“Peep” experience. We sacrifice the marshmallow peep
for pure pagan pleasure. You see, when you place an Easter peep
into the microwave for a few seconds, the peep profoundly puffs
to enormous proportions, then if you’ve timed it just right,
shrinks back down to a smaller size. However, if the peep spends
too much time in the microwave, the peep explodes and creates a
god awful mess that will take a good 15 – 20 minutes to clean.
Why, you might be asking yourself, does she, on this first day of
fall bring up springtime frolic? Allow me to explain.
Last Friday, Hurricane Ivan was resting his sleepy
head over West Virginia. Originally, the weather forecast called
for 10 – 15 inches of rainfall in a 24 hour period but was
downgraded to 2 – 5 inches. Our creeks which run along the
front and sides of our home were swollen with raging currents. The
water was rising fast and encroaching dangerously close to our sacred
satellite dishes. We watched in horror as we realized we may be
reduced to board games and cards by a kerosene lamp for the rest
of the evening. So, I decided if that was a possibility, the only
thing left to do was make some Thai food and chocolate chip cookies.
However, I had neither chocolate chips nor all the ingredients for
our Thai food dinner, so Doc and Sam bravely went to the store.
And brave they were! As they headed back for our
hills, the creeks that had been swelling were now rivers that flowed
over the roads. Stuck in the middle of one road, the two braves
waited for a half hour to cross what was once a stable culvert now
a violent white water river. Looking in his rear view mirror, Doc
realized another torrent had sprung up this time heading to the
back of his truck. Both men took a deep breath and plowed “the
little GMC that could” through hoping for the best. The cab
began to fill with water, but the truck was still moving forward.
Within moments which seemed like a lifetime, the truck emerged upon
drier road and the water in the cab subsided.
Back at the farm, I was pacing down to the mail
box and back home trying desperately to logically ascertain what
to do in a situation like this. Each time I trekked back to the
mailbox (a ¼ mile away), I couldn’t believe the amount
of water that was rushing down what was once our road. On my last
trip to the mailbox I waded into the road trying to catch site of
the blue truck, believing that if I saw them I could actually help
them, but the current started to suck me under. Aborting that plan
I walked back home and vowed to myself I would NOT call my mom and
tell her that I just killed my family because of a craving for Thai
Food and chocolate chip cookies.
Soaked, scared and searching for solace, I stood
in the pouring rain talking to Sam’s horse “Little Bit”
who too was a tad freaked out. While patting her face I heard a
faint rattle in the distance. We turned our head simultaneously
and stared down the pasture towards the road, frozen, barely breathing.
The rattle transformed into a coughing roar, turning our heads towards
each other, Bit gave me a reassuring nudge on the cheek. Spinning
around as fast as I could, there was the blue truck coming toward
me with two relieved men in the front seat. When they saw me they
scowled…”Thai Food, next time we’ll have PB&J
on a night like this…”
The next day was beautiful, the sky was a brilliant
blue, the trees and flowers glistened in the sun. The creeks had
shrunk to normal size. Sam and I were digging for rocks in the creek
bed; Doc was on the phone with our friend Max who lives in New Martinsville,
a hip little town about 30 minutes away. Max is an old friend from
Los Angeles who was in the film business for many many years but
retired and moved to WV three years before I could muster the courage
to leave California. Retirement came easy to Max as he loved to
let things go till the last minute, why hurry, when procrastination
is more fun.
Max lives in an old furniture factory that he’s
converting to a shi-shi Manhattan loft space right off the Ohio
River. His loading dock which he had planned to turn into a garage
and workshop was filled with boxes of books, artwork, film, and
visual effects equipment that not long ago cost over forty grand
a piece. The loading dock also housed his 1957 Chevy truck restoration
project. He has great plans and great talent, should he choose to
implement either of them.
While conversing with his long time friend, Doc
suggested that the boxes in the loading dock might want to go to
higher ground as the creeks were now flowing straight into the Ohio
River. Max, in his infinite wisdom, exclaimed that the Ohio River
hadn’t flooded since 1971 so he was safe…Doc in his
infinite wisdom said “Oh yeah? History always repeats itself”
While my little family enjoyed blue skies in the
afternoon and the Avengers on BBC America in the evening, the New
Martinsville dam was cracking from the sheer volume of water coming
from the creeks. Without warning the water was released from the
dam and Max’s loading dock was slowly submersing in Ohio River
water. By noon the next day, Max’s home was 6 feet under water
and other parts of the town submerged by 8 feet.
Yesterday, Doc and I went to New Martinsville donning
our rubber boots and coveralls to help Max with clean up efforts.
While shoveling the dank cardboard sarcophaguses of priceless artifacts
that were Max’s past into numerous wheelbarrow loads, my mind
turned to the sacrificial peep purchased every spring from the 99
cent store. You see, the peep is symbolic for procrastination; one
has a specific period of time to watch the peep grow before exploding
and creating a god awful mess. Benjamin Franklin once said: Never
leave that till tomorrow which you can do today. Seems that some
us here in WV live by the words of Mark Twain: Never put off until
tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.
All rights reserved. ©September 2004
It would flood again early in 2005.
Needless to say, Max learned a valuable lesson.