It was a bright, sunny day most of the day yesterday, but when I left, dark, heavy clouds were coming in on a strong wind that was down-right chilly. Something big was coming through and I was going to end up right in the middle of it all the way home.
Before I could even get a mile away from work, I stopped in a line of cars at a stoplight. As I was pulling up to the queue, three fire trucks, a couple police cars, and a tow truck pulled into the intersection, stopping all traffic. People ahead of me started doing U-turns and going back the other direction, but I could see that other lanes were able to move, so I waited patiently for the opportunity to move on through the intersection.
While I was waiting, I saw billows of smoke start pouring up into the sky. And then great leaping flames of bright yellow and orange fire chased that smoke. There’s a line of trees along the road that kept me from seeing anything clearly but there were definite flames climbing high into the air from something along the side of the road.
When the police officer eventually waved us through the light, I could see a car pulled into the median of the divided highway that I was pulling onto. It was crumpled and black with fire damage. The fire was extinguished, but brave local service personnel were still standing by and keeping an eye on it.
Shortly after that, the skies opened up and poured down rain. And we’re not talking that friendly summer rain that makes everything smell good and brings good refreshment to all the trees and grass. We’re talking torrents. We’re talking buckets and buckets of water crashing down from the sky and pounding relentlessly at everything in its path.
Fortunately for me, I’m getting really used to this kind of rain. There’s a method for handling this type of rain. You slow down to as slow as you need to go, put your wipers on as hard as they can go, turn on your blinkers, and stay the heck out of the ruts in the road that are pooling up with water. Especially with my short-wheeled little car. One poorly-timed puddle and I’m sitting in the ditch, so I’m careful. But I’m not going to sit still and wait for it to pass, either, because it could be hours before I get home that way.
The rain was dealing with an attitude problem anyway, it seemed, because it would pour down rain, and then let up completely. And then pour down again. Sort of like a teenage girl with her mood swings. I’m great! I’m sad! I’m great! I’m angry! I’m great!
About halfway home, during a light-rain episode, I ran into another queue of cars. This time, though, it wasn’t at a light. It was partially down a straight length of road that doesn’t have any stops until the T-intersection 2 miles further down. I could see another fire truck, but no lights were flashing and the hose was still in the back of the truck. People ahead of me started pulling U-turns again, and a man in a pick-up stopped to tell me what was happening.
There was a tree downed across the road. A big tree. And the volunteer firemen were working on it, but they only had one chainsaw between them and it was dull. And the tree was a good 3-feet thick. At the rate they were working, it was going to be at least another hour before the road was cleared through. I saw what was left of this tree on my way into work this morning and it really is an impressive piece of work. And it wasn’t the only one of its kind yesterday. Apparently the storm that crashed through wrought a fair degree of damage on its way.
So I got to the front of the line and turned around, and then stopped at every car for the next mile or so, everybody backed up behind us waiting to see what was happening, and told them what was going on—there’s a tree down, they’re working on clearing it, but it’s going to be an hour before anyone can get through. Time to find a different route home. I spoke to one woman who lived just beyond where the tree was down. “You might just want to park it here and walk home!” I said to her, laughing. “I just might!” she said.
I was tempted to stop and try to help redirect people, but it was already getting late and I wanted to get home. And the rain was starting up again and I didn’t want to stand in the pouring down rain trying to get people’s attention. So I got back on the road, took a route that took me further north than I would typically travel to get home, and drove into our neighborhood about an hour and a half after leaving work.
And then, I had to park in the overflow lot because AAA towed Justin’s car home from the mechanic’s lot and parked it crosswise in our slots so I couldn’t pull in. Fortunately, when Justin got home, he went down and got my car and moved it into the slot so I wouldn’t have to make that trek again in the morning.
Also, I had several episodes of podcasts on my music box to entertain me while waiting for the flaming car, driving slowly in the rain, and taking the long way home.
It was without a doubt the most interesting part of my day!