Storm monsters and planning next road tripBy: Robin Enos and John Downs
I woke up this morning to the sound of wind trying to gain entrance through the cat door and the rain coming down sounding like — as they use to say — a cow peeing on a flat rock. For a minute I lay there snuggled up to my pillow, the one that has my image embroidered on it. Lord, I love me. As I lay there luxuriating in my nest I became troubled, feeling something was amiss and then it hit me. Oh no! Today is the deadline to turn in my part of the column. So here I sit at the 11th hour trying to toss something together. So I’m going to my old fallback; my childhood. I don’t need to make anything up. I lived it. Listening to the storm outside reminds me of the old house I grew up in and winter storms. As many of our readers may remember I grew up in a very rural part of El Dorado County; the nearest neighbor being seven or eight miles away. The little house was all that remained of a once thriving mining camp; didn’t even have electricity. At some time in its history someone had tacked cheesecloth to the walls and glued wallpaper to the cheesecloth. But other than that bit of extravagance, the old house was unchanged since it was built about 1860. It wasn’t much but it afforded me the best childhood a kid could have. Maybe that’s why I remember it so well.
Now that I’m a grown up living in triple-insulated, double-glazed isolation, my awareness of the weather is provided by Katie Cutie, the local weather girl who with the gravity of Edward R. Murrow reporting the Blitz of London stands in two inches of water in her rubber booties telling me it raining. In my early youth I knew nothing of storm fronts, high pressure, low pressure, atmospheric rivers or polar vortexes. The world I could understand told me what I needed to know. I knew a storm was coming when the trees started to whisper nervously to each other. Then the taller trees would begin to wave their branches back and forth in anxious anticipation of the coming storm. When the first gust of wind struck the side of the house the loose wallpaper would suddenly puff away from the wall then settle comfortably back as if the old house was as surprised as I was. I knew it was time to blow out the lamp, grab my monkey dolls Charlie and Chester and crawl under the covers. Yeah, I had a couple of monkey dolls. So what? I was 5.
Next the wind arrived to deliver a warning rattle on the corrugated roof. The tree branches now heavy with water drooped and began to drag themselves across the roof making a faint screeek. Then a moment later a scraaak. I would stiffen and hold my breath. Every one knows if you stiffen up and quit breathing, you can hear better. I figured it was a storm creature scratching and clawing, trying to get in. Now and again it would pause; probably figured out I was on to it. Finally the storm creature decided to go all out. Rain thundered on the roof. The wind would occasionally lift a loose piece of tin then slam it back down with a bang. Now and again the storm would back away as if catching its breath then return to hurl itself at the old house making it tremble a little and causing the windows next to my bed to rattle in their slide-bolt fasteners. An occasional flutter of soft pats told me that some of the rain had gotten through gaps in the window and was dripping off the sill and on to the floor.
Finally the creature gave up. My house had protected me again. So the storm creature wandered off to go pick on someone else I guessed. The creek outside was still running high but other than that the only sound I heard was the gentle ting, ting, ting, tatting ting as the water dripped off the eaves and landed on an upturned coffee can outside my window. To that lullaby I went to sleep knowing as long as my head and feet were covered whatever was under my bed couldn’t get me and anyways I could always sacrifice Chester and kick him off the side of the bed.
While Time Traveler is curled up in the fetal position dictating his life’s story to his cat for our column, I’m back to reality now that my wife Janice and our faithful companion Mr. Turner are home after being left, I mean lost, to wander through Yosemite National Park for a month or so. The rumors that Traveler started are not true. I did not leave her sleeping at Mirror Lake shuttle bus stop intentionally nor at the top of the Half Dome trail or, or, whatever, and no, I did not file for her life insurance policy. Janice is home and being reacclimated to our normal vegan diet. Being a vegan made it easy while lost to find plenty of acorns, meadow grass (watch out for the yellowish grass) and fruit to sustain herself. Mr. Turner has decided he liked the life he had with the Yosemite coyotes and has now hooked up with the “Chicken Delight Gang of Coyotes” here in Newcastle. Me, I’m just thinkin’ about our next road trip. We pack up our fifth-wheel trailer and head for Canada come this April. Bloody Parrot and the rest of the Sourdough Sad Sacks will be living here while we’re gone. I’ve upped my homeowner’s insurance to cover the neighbors for any claims they might bring against us. The Chinese New Year (Year of the Pig) started on Feb. 5 and Bloody Parrot and the rest of those rabble-rousers are on their way to San Francisco to wreak havoc. I overheard Sad Sacks confabulating about how to gain entrance to my daughters flat in San Francisco for a free stay and meals. I’ve called my daughter who lives right down the street from Chinatown and told her to be sure and lock her doors and windows, keep her shades drawn and most of all, don’t answer the door. We’ve had some wonderful guests on the Newcastle Television Show these past few weeks, with this week’s guest being Bill Kirby former Auburn mayor, city councilman, doctor and all-around community leader. Be sure to dial in at KAHI 104.5 FM or 950 AM on your radio dial, with the show starting at 10 a.m. every Saturday. If you prefer you can podcast it at kahi.com on the world wide web.
Confucius say: "If you think we’re going to sum up your whole life on this little piece of paper, you’re crazy."
Confucius say: "I hear, I know. I see, I remember. I do, I understand. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."