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“…Water, water, everywhere,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, everywhere,

Nor any drop to drink. …”

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Ah, it’s summertime in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  A glorious time of year!

But, the summer sun is oddly elusive this season.  There has been so much rain that the normally scorched earth by mid August has stayed verdant green right up to our September Labor Day when it rained “buckets” again.   And tomorrow it will pour since we are now in a so called trough.  And so it will be into the next day and possibly the next.

Yes, we are continually surrounded by driving rain and enough falling water to float Noah for 40 more days and nights.  And yet, there is nothing to drink in our tucked away cottage on the edge of an enchanted forest.   And we must improvise since our water pump just decided to quit.

Wasn’t the Derecho Enough?

Our Enchanted Forest
After the Derecho

Wasn’t it bad enough we went through the Derecho storm just a few weeks ago and were without power for five days? We were waterless then too but a generator magically produced enough for survival.  But wasn’t that evil storm sufficient to remind us of the perils in country living?   Now here we are again hauling in buckets of that life giving fluid.   It didn’t rain enough buckets today for flushing you-know-what.  I suppose I am too old to actually say “toilets.”   There are limits to the tawdry use of language.  I do wonder why “toilet-water” is acceptable though.  I am talking about real toilet-water here of course…. the kind you flush!

Anyway, this fine wet Labor Day morning I scoured our home improvement store for large portable empty containers to hold water at the ready for the above embarrassing purpose.  No one in the store ever heard of large water containers.

I then stumbled around town trying to word my request in an understandable way. “Do you know where I can find large containers to hold water?  Our water pump gave up and we want to bring in water from the rain or the neighbors or a pool.”   Would you believe I got blank looks at this question?  Is there a clearer way to word it?  Eventually I was miraculously led to the camping department in Walmart, where there were exactly two 6-gallon storage containers available.  Hurrah!  They are now sold out.  I suppose I was lucky at that since if the super store ever had any inventory of containers, they probably sold down to these two during the Derecho.

Forget Labor on Labor Day

It’s Labor Day where I live.  My calls to Pump people and the local Farmer’s Cooperative ring and ring even as I yell into the receiver, “Pick Up PLEASE!”  Maybe if I had sent them a Happy Labor Day card, they might have remained open?  I tend to blame myself for failure – anybody’s failure.

There is one good thing to come of all this water loss in the midst of deluge, and that is, we are, at long last, getting used to surviving in the country.  And we have lived here for 24 years.  I actually saved a bunch of survival tips in a book since I expected a pandemic a year or so ago.  If you have any questions, I will be glad to share.   Here are some of my Water Tips.

You can drain your car radiator for water – if you can figure out where the radiator is.

The water in your you-know-what tank is actually clean and can be used for drinking – I think.   I hope.

You can sterilize the you-know-what water or creek water with drops of bleach – I have forgotten how many drops to how much water.  I think it was three drops per gallon.

You can boil creek water – I am not sure for how long or where the creek is.

You should have cans of peaches available for the liquid – why wouldn’t pears do?

There should be a gallon of water for each per person per day for drinking and cleansing.

I have a whole lot of other tips in a book I created to get ready for a pandemic that never arrived.  One tip I do remember is to put a chain across your road and a sign that says “Beware – Flu Here” even if you are perfectly healthy.

I will keep you posted on the water problem at my place and whether or not we resorted to sterilizing the water in the you-know-what!

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It was a storm called a Derecho  that demanded and got its 15 minutes of fame – a  maniacal weather beast that  caused headaches and a lot of sweating in the Commonwealth of Virginia and they say, in a total of ten states.  And the Derecho actually took lives in its insane path.

Friday:

A Very Big Wind –  I was creating a peachy blog post with two luscious tried and true recipes, when I heard the pitter-patter at my window pane, along with a howling wind.  “How exciting,” I thought, “It sounds like hail.”  I have never seen hail so I rushed to tell Bill.  “That’s not hail,” says he, “That’s WOOD.”  He meant that twigs and little things were being pounded into the window.  Uh Oh!

The wind got worse and all around there was lightning with no rain. It was all over in  minutes.  And our lights went out and stayed out for close to four days.  But that first evening was cool and deceived us into thinking, “This isn’t so bad.  Electricity will be restored by morning.”  Ha!  The storm hit on Friday night and by Saturday at noon temperatures had reached over 95 degrees, and there was no power.

Saturday:

Our Driveway Debris

Damage Assessment – Morning meant we could see what we really didn’t want to see.  Trees were down all around (fortunately, not on our roof).

Gasp! Look at this! Look at this! This will take months to clean up!

No electricity.

No air conditioning.

No land-line phone.

No water.

We were suddenly painfully aware we were dependent upon a little red generator, cell phone communication, and our own ingenuity.  We decided to simply tough it out. Ha!

Clean Up Job
Around the House

To get my mind off drooping, dripping and my clothes sticking to me in all the wrong places on that first scorching day, I invited neighbors/friends for dinner!  This may sound irrational,  but sharing stories of survival made the time go faster. Besides, our guests not only had no water at their home, but no generator either.  Pete had been out all morning clearing fallen trees from our roads, so he was happy to clean up a bit at our house.  And we had our July 4th feast on June 30th, cooked on the barbecue.

Sleeping that night became problematical. The day’s heat had built up in the house and I soon learned what “tossing and turning” really means.   What did we ever do without air conditioning I ask you?

Sunday:

Seeking Refuge –  Early morning of the second scorching day after the storm we rented a motel room (along with many other “locals”) to find some respite from the heat and to be able to shower and sleep at night.  Fortunately, there was some power on the north side of town to allow motels to stay open.  By midday however, the inn signs read “We are filled.”  We did get a room but spent most of the day at home anyway, trying to keep the freezer and the refrigerator going with our stalwart little generator.   By switching it onto different circuits it could magically generate enough water to flush toilets and fill pitchers.  Neighbors came to get drinking water  and more water for their horses.

Monday:

Forest Coming Down

The End of the World? –  I was beginning to feel like a displaced person wandering around in a world of technology that didn’t work.  Power lines were down so there was no land-line communication between friends and neighbors.  There was no news.  Our two radio stations never mentioned the storm or the anticipated time for reinstating power.  No one could connect with the power company or the phone company.  Gas was scarce.  Ice was precious.  Water was gold.  Cash worked better than credit because credit card machines were down.  Many restaurants and businesses closed.

Tuesday: 

Paralyzed  – Another scorching day spent much the same as Monday, with an increasing feeling of paralysis.  I was finally able to get my computer to work at the motel and answer some emails.  Blogging was a delightful activity I recalled from a long-ago past.  The list of new posts by my favorite blogger friends was growing and there was no time to devote to commenting.  Is this the way life was going to be?  Have you ever read The Road?  I saw comparisons as Bill and I traversed a scorched world full of confused people searching for ice and water.  Gas stations closed with signs on their pumps reading “No Gas.”

Tuesday Evening: 

Lighting the Way – “Bill, there’s a light on in the hallway!” I yelled,   “Is the generator hooked up to the hallway?”

“Noooo,” was his incredulous answer.  “I think we have power.  Yes, I believe we have power.”

YES! YES! YES!  WE HAVE POWER!  AND AIR CONDITIONING! AND LIGHT!  AND WATER!  AND I AM GIDDY WITH DELIGHT!

Wednesday, July 4th

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY TO THOSE OF YOU WHO CELEBRATE AMERICAN INDEDPENDENCE!

There are still many people in our area who are without power, but progress is being made.  The incessant heat is the culprit in making it so difficult to tough things out.  People have lost all the food in their freezers and refrigerators and are still camping out in the motels.  Motels are offering “local” rates and there is an overall air of kindness and people eager to help each other through this very rough time.  The Derecho storm is almost over and it’s time to clean up and start again.  It’s an Independence Day Holiday that will not be forgotten.

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