God spared us?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 2, 2003

I have a problem with those who believe God had anything to do with Isabel, like He either was testing our mettle, or merely punishing the trees, small birds and animals.

No one will convince me He had a hand in steering that storm toward any particular area, or putting it together in the first place. What was spared unless you count human beings? This was no picnic for the trees, or buildings placed too near water’s edge by less than great thinkers. This caused havoc in the lives of those who disdained proper property insurance. To say nothing of the wasted food thrown out by the powerless, or the food that was lacking for those souls with less than adequate dollars.

If we were to assume God formed the universe, our galaxy, our planet near a warming star, OK, but let it rest there. I had to dispose of a nest of drowned baby squirrels and it never occurred to me to look to the heavens and demand an explanation.

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On the twelfth day of Isabel my sweetheart said to me, &uot;Hey, the lights came on.&uot; Out went the candles, lanterns, off went the ear-numbing generator, and the damnable tripping extension cords were stored away. On went the deepwater pump and as soon as the water was hot the shower replaced the dishpan in which humans, like the birds, find a way to take a bath. On went the washer and dryer, the dishwasher, vacuum, coffeemaker, and out went the propane barbecue. Batteries became a dirty word. The microwave was king again, and the electric can opener.

All that was missing for 12 days as we cursed those aboveground power lines. Even the telephone went dead and so would we have if we had needed to call a rescue squad. And they wouldn’t have been able to get anywhere near our street because God had arranged all those oaks, maples and pines in pretty crisscross patterns across all the access roads. The racket of the gas-driven generators, was joined by hordes of chainsaw owners finally finding a serious use for their toys. You couldn’t give the wood away. My neighbor has become very selective, only accepting maple or oak.

My wife, born and raised in Germany during the war, compared Isabel with American and British bombers destroying her neighborhood. I thought back to combat in the same war as we crawled across France; no electricity, tainted water, basic food, and my less than squeaky clean body. Eleven months of it. But I do remember standing naked in the rain and using my steel helmet for a washbasin. I’ll leave 44 boys all doing the same to your imagination.

One of God’s trees smashed all the electrical parts that operate our deep well pump house. My very first expense was at a visit to city hall for a permit to replace it. They have you coming and going and they had the gall to charge me $61 for a piece of paper I must have in order to get back to where I had been. That piece of paper cost more than any part needed to repair the electrical system. I just love government.

I remember back when I was a kid seeing a picture of a wire strung along at the top of wooden poles out in the west. That was the telegraph wire between towns. That

connection was vulnerable. A bad guy could shinny up and cut it or shoot it. Or an Indian could throw a rope and pull it down. Let’s see, how many years ago was that, well before the word &uot;technology&uot; was coined. But it was coined, that’s the point, and the Model T has become a Lincoln. The hand-wringer became a spin dryer. The sickle became a lawnmower. The outhouse became an inside toilet. Buttons became zippers. But if you look up, almost anywhere, you will still see that wooden pole with the vulnerable wire on it. Is that why we are referred to as the Old Dominion?

Robert Pocklington is a resident of Suffolk and a regular News-Herald columnist. He can be reached at robert.pocklington@suffolknewsherald.com.