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Irene August 31, 2011

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

The rain began on Saturday, during the fireworks that ended the day’s celebration of the town’s 250th anniversary of its charter. I was exhausted from all the activities—historical exhibits, vendors, a parade, a barbecue—so I didn’t attend the fireworks. I stepped onto my porch and watched the rain while the sky lit up in the distance and the fireworks boomed.

It didn’t stop raining for a long time.

I was more prepared than usual for a storm. We’d lost power twice last week, once for nearly 24 hours. I had drinking water galore in the basement and backup batteries. This time I filled my bathtub with water, as well as several huge buckets, so I could at least flush when the power went out.

On Sunday, I obsessed. Sometimes I turned on the TV. More often, I kept an eye on Facebook (after a several-hour fear-of-losing-power hiatus, that is) as people posted the horrifying scenes happening near them, not far from me.

The small river behind my own house—the word river always seems like overkill*—kept rising. My next-door neighbor Lynda and I made trips out back to check its progress. It soon left its banks and began to engulf her swing set. You know—my favorite swing set.

Our backyards are steep, which makes them not incredibly wonderful or spacious as backyards, but that steepness gave us hope that maybe the river wouldn’t take our slate-wall porches.

The water kept rising.

Worried, we decided to walk down the street to the rail-trail bridge over the river. When we saw what was happening to our neighbors several houses down, we knew we were the lucky ones. We stood on the bridge briefly to look up- and downstream. The water raged.

We didn’t walk far enough to realize that the next street down was its own river.

We walked home. We talked to the neighbors. Martha was first to offer the most obvious Parts West solution to our immediate worries: Let’s have a potluck.

We bid farewell to the rising water, now perilously close to my porch, and headed across the street to the Heights.

Martha made a roast beef and fried green tomatoes and eggplant. The rest of us grabbed what we had on hand, and, as always, somehow there was more delicious food there than could possibly be consumed by all of us—us that night being this little corner of Parts West that includes Martha and Thom and Emily and Dorothy and Laura and Chris and Eugenia and Lynda and Rich and Lorrie and Jade and Greg and Daniela and an Indigo Bunting and her Tim.

Yes, there was drinking.

Among my offerings was a peach pie, minus two slices. I’d bought it the day before at the fund-raising pie sale. Tim and I had narrowed our choice to two pies with good-looking crusts. He leaned toward the apple, I toward the peach (apple being higher risk in my book). Tim, feeling it a no-lose situation, gave in. On Sunday we dug into it, topped it with ice cream.

Dorothy brought a pie too. I mentioned mine, and she asked how I liked it. Good thing I gave it the praise it deserved because it turns out she was its maker. She also made the one we left behind. That night, we got to try her apple pie after all. Mmmmmm.

For a few moments, after dark, it stopped raining. Then it started again.

It was probably around 9:00 when we left. I had a flashlight. Lynda and Tim and I headed straight to our backyards, stopping only briefly to let the birdseed-eating skunk scamper away.

We aimed aimed our beam of light downhill. The water was lower than the swings. The river had crested. We were probably going to be OK.

And we are. There’s a bit of debris and mud in the backyard. Not for a second have we stopped understanding or appreciating our good fortune. By now, you too have probably seen the footage of the worst of Vermont. Locally, I’ve seen things I’ve never seen before, never thought possible, hope to never see again.

Our power—which was off for two hours Friday because of one downed tree—never went off.

Still, I’m afraid to dump the water just yet.

*No pun intended as I was writing. But there it is.


1. Bridgett - August 31, 2011

Potluck is how we handle crises here, too. There’s something about eating meat from Travis’ smoker and my cucumber onion salad and Cicely’s lemon meringue and so on and so on, in the midst of worries and woes about cleaning out the fridge or having to check on the parents or wondering how to get that tree limb off the high tension electric wires. Stop and eat. Then think.

2. helen - August 31, 2011

I feel like I’m living in a bubble… I haven’t heard, until now, anything about the situation in Vermont (all the attention here seemed to be focused on New York). I am, of course, glad you’re OK, but not glad to hear about others’ situations.

Why is apple pie higher risk than peach pie?

3. Mali - September 1, 2011

I’m glad you’re okay. Another friend has just moved to Vermont, and put a photo on Facebook of a raging torrent, with the caption “Hi. I’m usually a field.” I’m glad all my Vermont friends escaped damage.

Not to mention getting two pies for the price of one!

4. Marie - September 1, 2011

I love your posts…allows me feel like I am part of Parts West and less homesick for my second home. Glad all is getting back to normal.

5. Jenny - September 19, 2011

Gosh darn it! When you write about food, I drool. I know this isn’t the focus of the post, but it became the focus when I read it. Glad you’re safe.

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