It's nearly two in the afternoon and the temperature both inside and outside is 72degF and there's a fresh breeze flowing through the house and keeping things comfortable out in the sun and the bright blue sky.
Perfect weather? Naw -- I prefer jacket weather, about twenty degrees colder and a nice autumn day. But I'll take a lovely summery day in the middle of an August heat blast, for sure. Why not?
Even as the guy from the LP gas company is hooking up the shiny new Kohler 12kW backup generator to the LP tank, so the electricians can come back in the morning and finish the installation, one has to remember that this bit of technology does not make us impervious to everything. We can't roll up the driveway and declare ourselves independent from civilization. It'll only help us when the power goes out.
Case in point. Monday, as I was getting the newspaper and mail out across the road, I'd just detected the hint of something burnt when our across the road neighbors were driving out. From the wind coming out of the west, I realized it couldn't be our other neighbors' burning barrel. That was when the thirty or forty feet of blackened weeds and brush was pointed out to me. Seems that a county road crew had been driving along at speed regrading the shoulders and throwing up sparks from where the blade was striking the road -- and one of the sparks set off the brush fire. Neighbors got to call 9-1-1 and watch the Allendale Fire Department and everything. We've had little rain, at least for around here and lots of things are quite dry.
In the afternoon, working from home, I'd heard the rumble of large truck engines idling, but we can't see most of the road due to the stand of tall pines in the front yard. And since no one was coming down our driveway, I didn't think anything of it. No sirens anyway. So I guess I missed the fire.
As for hearing sirens...
About a month ago the Aeromed chopper had to rush people to the hospital from a horrendous wreck just up the road at 104th Avenue. As I recall, it had all the hot button touchstones you could want in a single news story: an overcrowded car filled with young teens, a 16-year-old driver, immigrants, an old man in a pickup truck... But that's not the point here. We'd seen that evening quite a parade of vehicles with flashing lights and sirens, including some of the Allendale F.D. people heading towards town before bringing their equipment back. And we'd heard the chopper come in and low, and I speculated that maybe there was a crash at 104th, since we couldn't see anything.
Last night the parade of sirens came back and again came the heavy sound of the Aeromed helicopter flying in low. I glanced out the bedroom window and could see flashing lights at the end of the Warner Street Racetrack straightaway. Then I went out on the front porch with binoculars and watched as the Aeromed chopper gingerly came down beyond the trees at the curve into what had to be a pretty tight landing zone. Don't know the bladespan of their machine or their minimum safe distance, but it's a big chopper and there's a lot of trees off that way. Neighbors were already on top of the news -- someone had wrapped their car around a tree, presumably from missing the curve. Some were driving down the shoulder of the road on ATVs and a John Deere lawn tractor to see what was going on. Entertainment in the sticks, I guess.
Television and movies always telescope time and can give you a false impression of how things work. The Aeromed chopper last night landed in the dusk about 8:51pm EDT and took off in the dark at 9:44pm EDT. It takes time to extract and work on real people, you don't just shove and go.
The backup generator will keep us with light, water, heat and cool. It will hold back the night and the wild, but only up to a point. One has to be reminded of these things from time to time. Just as sitting all night in the dark with only a flickering candle and a booklight, but no TV, computers or Internet access, reminds one of how close we are to stepping out of the 21st century. Even without fire, flood, earthquake or other disaster, natural or manmade.