Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Minneapolis broke a dew-point record today. The local atmosphere has never before held so much water vapor without raining—at least since records of such things have been kept.
I knew it was going to be an extraordinary day when I walked into the living room at 6:30 in the morning and saw a family of wild turkeys wandering across the front yard. By my rough count, there were nine chicks along with the parents, grazing my lawn, which I haven’t cut in at least two weeks. (Everyone knows that tall grass keeps the roots cool, and if the grass goes to seed, all the better!)
Yesterday we lost power for a while. I called Excel and the young man on the other end of the line told me my neighborhood should be back on-line by 4 pm. It happened to be 4:05 at the time.
“I could set you up with an automated message,” he added helpfully. “If it isn’t back up by 5 they’ll send you a message with the anticipated time.”
“Don’t bother,” I replied. “They’ll fix it when they can.”
Meanwhile, I asked the man where the substation was that had blown. (I thought maybe I’d wander over and see what was going on, maybe lend a hand.)
“We aren’t given that kind of information,” he replied. “But there are 753 homes without power in your area, so it’s not a major outage.
“Are we the only neighborhood down?”
“God no. We thought things would be worse today, what with the heat. It’s bad enough to keep everyone busy…but not bad enough to justify overtime.”
“Where are you? Denver?”
“No. I’m in Eau Claire.”
“Tell me, then,” I replied. “I was in Eau Claire a few weeks ago and everyone was tubing through town. Do they do that all summer, or only on Fourth of July?”
“All summer long. Eau Claire is a college town. You put in at the city park downtown and get out by the hockey arena two miles downstream.”
Today I kept inside most of the day. We lost power briefly…when Hilary plugged in the iron on top of the fan, the air conditioner, and the computer stuff. No harm done. But at a certain point I knew I had to get out of the house. Buy some bread and garlic for the gazpacho. Lemons and parsley. The atmosphere was oppressive.
But you have to get OUT in it.
Back from the grocery store, I replaced a board in our back deck. Then I planted a few annuals I got for free yesterday at Bachman’s while hunting for a new birdbath. Then I clipped off the buckhorns that were stealing sunlight from the Amur maples we’re trying to nurture as a privacy hedge now that our red cedars have bit the dust.
Then I mowed the back lawn. (A very small space.)
Then I moved our ancient pagoda-lantern out from the woods that have grown up around it over the years. I moved it six feet. In my book, that’s progress.
Then I was drenched in sweat. A lovely sensation.
Then I went inside and poured myself a glass of cheap Argentine chardonnay. I cut a slice of bread off the 99 cent loaf I’d purchased at Cub and dipped it into the gazpacho. (They say that the two essential ingredients of gazpacho are vinegar and bread.)
And then I started thinking about Robin Hood.