Cold and rainy and wet.
I have whiplash from the whole "it's so dry my skin is cracking" to "when did we become the stand-in for the Amazon rain forest?"
Two weeks ago, the air and land around here was so dry that we were on weather alerts due to a increase chance of fires.
Yes, you read that right.
We here in wet, wet, wet New England (wet even on our driest days) were under a Code Red Alert fire watch.
And fires there were, even if you looked at something wrong.
This little truism struck extremely close to home — as in two doors away close to home — with my 'Rents.
It got worse from there.
Part of the reason why it spiraled out of control was because of those hot, dry winds winds that nursed what could've been an apartment fire into a full-out blazing inferno that ate a house and nearly ate a second one. Part of the reason was because a well-meaning motorist called in the fire from their cell phone and got the name of the street wrong, thus sending the fire department off to the wrong neighborhood and delaying a response by 6 minutes.
The Greek house (so-called because this Greek family owned it — although the Greeks have also been absent from the neightborhood for roughly 15 years), which had fallen into near-ruin thanks to a series of slum and absentee landlords, was the only thing standing between my parents' house and the utter destruction of the Blanchard house.
If the wind had been blowing a different direction? Well...
Anyway, my parents learned some interesting facts that day:
A fire department ladder truck can, in fact, back into their driveway and actually fit the enterity of its massive bulk between their house and a serious need to call their homeowners insurance company.
That firefighters will take one look at a classically blue collar neighborhood of closely placed houses on postage-stamp-sized property and, while muttering 'Oh, shit!' the entire time, will go through hell and high water to make sure the massive three-alarm fire fanned by Santa Ana-like dry winds won't get any ideas and start eating the neighboring houses.
The old asebstos house shingles that were outlawed for use some time back in the 1970s — the same crumbling, powdery house shingles my mother always sternly warned me to never touch because I might get sick when I was a stupid kid who liked picking up the ones that fell off the Greek house so I could use them for sidewalk chalk — actually are fire retardant and repellant and remains the only reason why the Greek house still exists in any form.
The heat of a three-alarm fire feels like a really bad sunburn on your exposed skin, even if you're standing a block away, and a burned-out house still stinks of burned woodsmoke more than two weeks later.
The heat of a three-alrm fire will melt the windows of the house next door and could conceivably render that same neighboring house unfit for human habitation, even if there's no structural damage.
When a house burns and the smoke is black, the house is gone, Q.E.D. The only thing the fire department can do is to keep the flames from jumping to the other houses.
In the end, my parents came out fine, once they got over their mild heart-attacks upon returning from errands and discovering they couldn't go home due to giant orange flames shooting across the street and a whole lot of firefighters running around.
The Blanchard house, which I finally saw with my own eyes this weekend, is a boarded-up lump of charcoal. I remain amazed that no one was killed in that, considering this house was over a 100 years-old and didn't have any modern amenities for escaping a fire — like a metal fire escape.
Only one person ended up in the hospital. The landlord. And he's in the hospital only because his tenant on the second floor had to jump from her apartment and he ran over to catch her. She landed on him. She was unhurt, but he broke his nose.
Neighborhood scuttlebut (and there's no scuttlebut like working class neighborhood scuttlebut with its own head gossip — ours is a guy who has a serious love for his tiny postage stamp-sized lawn) is that these two hated each other.
Compare and contrast.
[Note: I use "water emergency" in quotes because this is New England. Running out of water is not a problem, but we're the Land of Frugal Yankees. Better to shut down the local car wash in August for three weeks because...y'know...there's always a chance that the 412 billion gallon Quabbin Reservoir and its state-wide network of smaller reservoirs holding billions of more gallons will drop a foot lower than we like. People, we sell water to other states. Every trip through the car wash means we can't soak someone else for our water. No one wants that.]
Anyway, the weather here is...interesting. It's like bands of rain. One second, it's just cold and damp. Then the steel grey skies open up and it's a wall of water. So, driving to the wedding last night was an adventure. We had to head down some winding, typically backwoods New England roads to get to it in rain so heavy you could barely see three feet in front of the car. We were openly wondering if those babbling little brooks, now turned into roaring rivers, were going to flood out the roads thus requiring us to sleep overnight in a golf course club house.
Today the rain let up, but only slightly. Didn't stop us from seeing Hoot (Flash required).
[Side note: Very, very cute movie. Totally rated G and totally charming. It'll entertain the kiddies and amuse the adults with the quick wit and great one-liners. It's solid family movie with decent characterization and charming characters. Good even if the excited kids in question are older than 20 like, ummmm, me. It's an excellent adaption of Carl Hiassen's award-winning kids' book. Plus, Jimmy Buffet did the soundtrack and has a role in the movie. Parrotheads, start your engines!]
My dad read something that the changing weather patters (thanks Global Warming!) might mean that we here in New England might get to look forward to this as an annual event. The southern states will be over-run with monster hurricanes. The western states will pass out from thirst. New England will drown.
At least we'll have plenty of drinking water. So that's on the positive side.
And imagine how much money we'll make if we could build a pipeline long enough to sell all that water to drought-striken states. We'll be like oil barrons over here. The Wet Saudi Arabia, only with wild-eyed fanatics spreading the gosspel of liberalism and the nanny state all across the U.S. of A. The Politics of Water instead of the Politics of Oil.
Sorry. It's the cold. And the damp. It's done something to my brain.
Anyhoo, the Charles River is look more like the Charles Lake where I am. It's nowhere near close to overflowing where I live because that banks are so steep, but those banks are a lot less bank-y (for lack of a better word) than they were two days ago. Last time I saw something like this was in the fall. Yeesh. Not sure how I'll take it if this becomes part of our regular weather pattern.
The ducks, wild swans, blue herons, and Canada geese are beside themselves with joy, at least. So much more wet territory to fight over, so little time.
I promise to respond to comments tomorrow. I'm wiped and need some Zzzzzzzs. Plus the rain on the roof is very lullabye-like.