If a hand reaches out for us.
Hello from cool and cloudy Vermont. If time was an automobile, this week I drove a jaguar. Students have returned from summer break, and my online forum is alive with questions and comments about research and the online tools we have a the students’ disposal. Meanwhile at home, we continue to manage two living spaces, Soft Landing and Schoolside. Soft Landing continues to be a sweet hug of welcome after a long day. Schoolside has its difficulties. We need to be out of there completely, but we are struggling to close the gate.
Perhaps after an enormous garbage/recycling run, and another small load of furniture and books going into storage, we’ll be able to turn off the utilities and wipe our hands clean of 77 Depot. And what of Serena, you ask? Well, we’ll try to get the best VOC filter system we can and run it here. By God’s grace and cutting edge technology, hopefully she’ll be able to breathe. I look forward to having us all under one roof again, “in the shelter of each other” (Pipher).
Ever since my cousin posted a day- by- day update regarding their home and approaching waters in Houston (thankfully, they and their home are safe and sound), I’ve been thinking about the people in Florida as they wait for Irma to land. A scarcity of food and water on the grocery store shelves, not enough gas to get out, routes blocked with traffic. I’m sure that’s not the case in every town or city, but even if it’s true for one, it’s terrifying.
When I lived in Boston in the mid-80s, Hurricane Gloria struck. I too braved the lines for food and water, and when I got it all home, the power went out. It stayed that way for two days and nights. On the third day, power returned. I spent a lot of time on the phone with my family in Vermont; they took turns keeping me company, as I had no flashlight or candles (not much common sense back then). In a basement apartment, alone, I worried about water, trees breaking windows, the screaming wind tearing the building apart. Water did come into the basement, but not where I lived. Trees came down, but spared my windows. I ate peanut butter and drank bottled water. When Gloria moved on, I took a bus ride around the city to see the damage–so many huge trees and power lines down. And that was a mere category three.
In 1995, we got married and spent a week in beautiful St. Martin. We had trouble with our flights getting home, because hurricane Luis was expected to hit the island the next day, and lines and lines of people were trying to get out. The next day, Luis destroyed the island. Staff and guests at the hotel we had just left had to be evacuated by helicopter. We saw pictures on television and didn’t find any of our landmarks. They were gone.
When Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana, we brought money and supplies to the Vermont State House. Volunteers filled trucks, and drivers drove caravan style to the parishes hardest hit. And then, of course, I remember the destruction of Hurricane Irene, right here in Vermont. And that’s recent enough for all of you to still know the story and see its effect as you drive down I-91. This is our world now. Along with, in our case, the exquisite beauty of foliage, there are fires, earthquakes, tornados, and hurricanes.
But here’s the thing. As long as we care for each other, we can get through these bad times. As soon as she could, my cousin arranged for groups of her friends to help out the people in her neighborhood who weren’t so lucky. She made sure everyone she knew had food and shelter. Later she arranged for school rides. She took people in. We Vermonters did the same thing after Irene swept through. Helping out, helping hands. The basis of humanity.
I hope Irma runs out of steam before she even touches down. And I pray that not one life is lost–not one human being, not one pet. As a society, we must stay vigilant and alert and be helpful during the suffering of others. As individuals, if a hand reaches out for us, let’s take it.
Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.