It’s so stuffy in this house you can barely breathe. Closing the shutters downstairs and upstairs both makes me feel like I’m just about to choke. Bringing all my plants in the house has made the jungle-like atmosphere even worse. Thank goodness Feena finally fussed herself to sleep.
It’s hard to see through the rain but the little bit of dawn like there is has shown high tide has been pushed up over the road. I’ve seen it worse but not much. When everything recedes it is going to be a mess to clean up. There’s a tree across the driveway but I’ll deal with it later. I don’t have to worry about Cal coming home and not being able to get around it because he’s at the station waiting for the next call from some looby that didn’t evacuate when they should have. They opened the schools early but less than a quarter of the people that should have evacuated did before the storm started getting bad. Now they are all cussing that no one will come get them and take them to safety.
Got a call early yesterday from the Produce Station with an offer I just couldn’t refuse though Cal just about flipped a switch when he found out I had left. When the track of the hurricane was more firmly established they realized that the bay area was going to take a beating so they were trying to get rid of as much of their produce as they could so they wouldn’t have to truck so much out of the area. I took the trailer with me and came back with carambolas, pineapples, papayas, Persian limes, guavas, passion fruits, lemons, grapes, and pomegranates. I also had a bunch of cases of drinks and bottled water from the open air food stand in the back. On top of the fruit there were several pumpkins, some hubbard squash, and three hundred pounds of pinto and black beans weighing my little car down to the point I was almost dragging my tail pipe. I’ve got plans for those beans and will be giving some to Dorrie’s family too.
The very earliest squall lines were starting to drift through by the time I got home and it was close to dark. Cal was so angry he almost wouldn’t talk to me. The only thing he did was move the bags of beans – each one weighing fifty pounds – into the kitchen; then he left for work after telling me that he’d be back between shifts to tie down the trailer and anything else that needed doing.
I didn’t stop him from growling, it had taken me a lot longer than I had expected to complete the transactions and load up; it was every man – and woman – for themselves and the place had been like a madhouse. Coming home was no fun either; the evacuation routes were a mess and I had to cross several. I put all the produce in the house and after it was full dark moved all of my plants in using a head lamp whose elastic was so old I had to fix it to a baseball cap with a safety pin. Cal had already gotten his boat out of the water and tied it down and secured it the best he could. He’d started the job on the trailer and might have finished it had I been home to help him. Rather than wait for him I completed it using a ratchet to tighten the straps and then started filling water containers.
Cal came home and was mollified to see what I had accomplished in his absence. He still managed to say, “You shouldn’t have been out on the roads Aria. I’ve seen storms before but I’ve never seen people acting this crazy because of storms before. We’ve already had several calls because of store looting.”
I shrugged. “People are animals. Expect the worst and you won’t be disappointed.”
He stood up from his stoop and said, “Hey, I’m supposed to be the cynic around here.”
I shrugged again. “I’ve seen too much not to know how stupid some people can act.” Smacking yet another mosquito that was dining on me I asked, “Have you heard how Dorrie’s family is?”
“All buttoned up. Josh said that I was to tell you if the water gets too high you’re to take off to their place.”
I snorted. “That’s sweet but Dorrie knows better. If the water gets too high we’ll be trapped on this side of the river. In the old days the storms would push the water clear up to the house, that’s why the crawl space is so deep … so the water can flow under the house rather than through it. The animals are as secure as I can make them in the shed. At least we finished all the repairs to it. I suppose I’ll bring them up to the house if it gets really, really bad; I’ll lock them in the Florida room if I have to. I’m worried about your stuff though. At least consider letting me bring it in the house.”
“You already store almost all of it in here in the back bedroom.”
“Not that stuff, your everyday stuff that’s in the trailer.”
Looking at me, “You’ve seen storms out here before. You think it’s necessary?”
“I don’t know about necessary necessarily but it couldn’t hurt.”
After a moment he said, “You got bags or something to put it all in?”
“I’ve got some empty storage tubs.”
I dragged the tubs over to his trailer and he started filling them and then looked at them more closely. I asked him, “What? Is there a crack in that one?”
“No,” he said cautiously. “Aren’t … aren’t these the ones you … er … had Daniel’s stuff stored in?”
“Yeah, they don’t have cooties. I cleaned them before I stacked them up.”
He shook his head. “That’s not what I mean. Just … uh … where did his stuff go?”
I sighed not wanting to have the conversation. “Some here, some there. I suppose I should have asked if you wanted anything.”
He shook his head. “No. But … but when? I mean you wouldn’t even touch or move the stuff when we were replacing the locks and doorknobs.”
I leaned against the trailer door and talked to him through the screen unable to stand in the light and look at him while I spoke, even if it meant vampire mosquitos sucked me dry. “While you were off with your buddies playing Creature from the Black Lagoon. And before you ask, I don’t know why then. It was just time. Feena is almost nine months old. Daniel has been gone … over … over six months … longer in a way, a lot longer. I was in the hospital for Thanksgiving last year and we were all in mourning by Christmas. Here it is July and I didn’t even want to go to the 4th of July picnic because it reminded me of last year. So much has happened since then, I’ve come so far yet sometimes if feels like … like I haven’t moved a step.”
“But why then? Were you waiting until I was gone?”
“That’s not it at all. I hadn’t even thought that was what I had planned to do. I don’t know what put the bee in my bonnet Cal; I was sitting on the porch trimming my toes nails when it just hit me. I was still holding on to things, not dealing with them. I’d put it off too long, let it get too big in my mind. It was just stuff, inanimate. It needed to be done. End of story.” Slapping at a beetle that had zigged when he should have zagged and had wound up in my hair instead of against the porch light I told him, “I still can’t see anything like normal in my future but if I’m going to help Feena to have it I’ve got to … got to …” I shrugged. Refusing to verbalize anything else I ended with, “It was just time. That’s the only thing I can say. Please don’t ask me to explain it any better than that because I can’t.”
Matter-of-factly he said, “OK. So long as it wasn’t because you were afraid to deal with things with me here.”
“No. That wasn’t it. It was just time.”
After we got everything but the built in furniture out of the trailer he ate a plate of picodillo while I packed him some empanadas for him and Josh to eat on if they had time.
As he was leaving he said, “I wish there was room for you and Feena at the station but it’s crammed with people that have gotten arrested on purpose to get out of the storm. It isn’t a fit place right now.”
“We’re fine. Go before they start asking for your twenty.”
I slept a little but the storm really started whipping and whistling and woke me up. I can’t say for sure but I think I see a couple of power pole have snapped. The river probably looks like the ocean at this point. I hope no one is crazy enough to be out in this stuff.