Monday, August 22, 2005

Back to Work

Cha and I almost died on the way to teeny tiny Wolcott, NY, but the trip was worth it. How did we almost die? In a tornadic storm of some sort, which hit dramatically just south of Wilkes Barre, PA. We were cruising I-81 through the Pocono mountains when the sky assumed an agitated green/purple aspect not unlike an overripe mango. I noted aloud the tiny twisting cloud cones above and behind us to the West, and not two minutes later visibility dropped to about two meters and the heaviest rain I've ever experienced began buffeting the Jetta. The cars in front of us were barely visible, and shimmered like the outline of objects seen through wet wax paper. I hit my hazards and dropped to about 10 MPH and thought "We're in deep shit" because now we were IN the cloud cover and I couldn't see anything that might be forming. I lived in Gettysburg for a couple years as a child and we had four or five tornados touch down nearby; the signs are burned in my head, as is the need to watch for that dark and hypnotic funneling above. There's no root cellar on I-81, so I started looking for an underpass, while dodging trailer trucks trying to maintain 75 MPH flying by in the murk, the cars stopping in the slow lane, those trying to get off to the side, etc. A blast of wind hit us that was so fierce the car wobbled back and forth on its suspension, and that was it--I pulled over and Cha started putting on her jacket. We knew we were fucked, and then a ten-foot tree branch floated gracefully over the roof of the car, all the trees to our right along the highway flattened to the earth, the car in front of us started shaking, and I floored it and took an exit whose sign I could not read, again looking for an underpass or a ditch to hide in. I asked Cha to dial in AM 520 and in very broken stoccato staticky language a calm young woman's voice was advising "drivers near Wilkes-Barre on I-81" to get the fuck out of their vehicles NOW and seek shelter. For some reason I found this funny at the time, and just as we were about to jump out of the car and head for the crotch of a rusty old bridge embankment the wind stopped and glorious orange sunlight broke through the bruised sky. Branches and trees and other debris were strewn across the highway, cars were haphazardly stopped all along the shoulder and the slow lane, and I had somehow ended up in a very bad part of Wilkes Barre. All the traffic signals were out of order and there was trash everywhere, but we quickly got back on the road and had a great story for everyone when we arrived.

Wolcott is a cool little town, and we had a nice roomy house for the 11 of us on a lake about a half mile from Lake Ontario. We played tons of Boggle and Scrabble and Risk and Sequence and Monopoly and whatnot; we caught perch, bass, salmon, trout, and sunnies galore. We swam at Sodus Point, bought thrift shop clothes, pottery, drank enough Labatt's Blue to float a flotilla, ate like kings and queens, and smoked a Tommy Chong-choking amount of crumbly Xmas tree greeny. The house had a pool table, a boat dock for our four craft, satellite TV and DVD player, a hottub, and a little garden pond full of frogs and carp. Hilights? Cha playing Marco Polo with my niece and nephew in the hottub, carrying Porc Heaven on my back because he was too stoned to move ("hurty, burny, foily" he kept saying), seeing the mammoth salmon Uncle Area 51 caught (38 inches, 33 pounds!) on Lake Ontario. More later.

Now I'm home, waking to the sounds of trucks rumbling down York Road at 6am instead of to the dawn bird chorus. Fuck work.