Gifts from Mother Nature?

Carol Rood

By: Carol Rood

I have been sick for at least two weeks now.  Well, not really sick like you might think.  I don’t have a virus, or an infection; I am suffering due to smoke.  Yes, I said smoke.  Sounds weird right? No, Bluebell has not started to smoke cigarettes or cigars; it is smoke from a fire.  A wildfire.  The wildfire in the Great Dismal Swamp to be exact.  I live about 15 miles northeast of the Dismal Swamp.  When we have winds from the south my neighborhood gets smoky…and by “smoky” I mean turn-your-headlights-on-and-close-part-of-the-highway-due-to-no-visibility smoky.  The day my 14-year-old had his 9th grade orientation at the high school I had to drive with my headlights on at 8 freaking o’clock in the morning! The smoke was so thick, and visibility so poor the city shut down a major highway for a time until the worst of the smoke cleared.  All of this smoke has wreaked havoc on my poor respiratory system, and my allergies have been awful!  I have had to resort to staying indoors almost 24/7 and taking Loratadine every day.  My eyes were watery and red, my nose and throat were sore, my voice was scratchy, I was coughing, and I was fed up.

So many of us were feeling the horrible effects of the smoke that we began praying for the fire to be put out. The firefighters were working so hard, and the fire was just so big and in such swampy areas, they just couldn’t get to it.   So we prayed for rain.  Have you ever heard the saying “be careful what you pray for, you might just get it”?  Well, we in Southeastern Virginia had been praying for rain and we sure got it.  Her name was Hurricane Irene!

Oh, but before we had to contend with Irene, while still dealing with the fire, we had to experience the GREAT QUAKE OF 2011!  First, I have to tell you that I am lame.  Yes, I admit it, I am lame.  I was busy making a German chocolate cake for Bluebell who had to put her beloved German Shepherd Dakota down, and I didn’t even feel the  “great” event.

Noble Dakota, Nov 2000 - 22 Aug 2011

Bluebell was feeling sad, so I decided to make her a German chocolate cake to bring a small smile to her face.  I was busy in the kitchen mixing things, measuring things, and taking pictures so I could put the recipe on my blog, and generally focusing on my work.  Our oldest son was in the other room playing World of Warcraft. (Yes we are online gamers. Both Bluebell and both of the older boys play, so it is a family thing. At least we game together…)

Anyway, I was in the kitchen working, and our oldest son calls to me from the other room, “Ummmm why is the house shaking?”  My response was “what are you talking about?”  Again he says, “Seriously, why is the house shaking?”  He and I were the only ones home.  The other two boys were visiting their father and Bluebell was at work. I call back to him and say, “It is probably just someone out in front of the house in their car blaring their music.”  [On a side note, this has happened many, many times.  We live next door to a house full of teenagers and young adults and they take great joy in sitting outside the house waiting for whomever they are waiting for to come out, all the while blasting the music (usually rap) in their car at insanely loud levels and it makes the walls of my house vibrate.] So B walks in to the kitchen and pulls me into the dining room and points at the chandelier which is swaying back and forth quite vigorously and says, “No, it isn’t someone outside. See, the house was shaking.”

At that very instant my phone rings and it is my BFF Melissa (who lives around the corner from me) calling to ask me if I felt my house shaking.  I was a bit exasperated by now. I mean after all, I have a cake to bake, and pictures to take, and get the darn thing posted in an hour…can’t they all just leave me alone???  However, she is my BFF, and I have to at least placate her, so I say to her, “It was probably just a sonic boom or something. Just put the news on the tv, I am sure you will find out what is going on.”  Of course by that point, my teenager has left and is back on the computer as if nothing had happened.

I finished baking my cake, and thought, what the heck?  I will put on the news to see what was going on.  I turn on the news and darn it, if I didn’t just miss the 5.8 earthquake. The largest earthquake on the East Coast in 50 years.  WTF?  I didn’t feel a thing.  To make myself feel better I shrugged it off to the fact that I spent many years living in California, and was therefore used to earthquakes. And besides, nothing fell off the walls to indicate clearly that it was an earthquake.

I tried to call Bluebell to make sure she was okay, because she works on top of helicopters for a living and I wanted to make sure she hadn’t been shaken off of one of them.  (She is a bit accident-prone.) Of course the phones weren’t working, but I was able to text her and she was fine.  Of course that just meant I had to admit to another person that I hadn’t felt a thing.  I broke down and put it as my Facebook status –apparently, there were lots of other people who didn’t feel the earthquake, so at least I was not alone. 

Mother Nature seems to have it out for the Hampton Roads area lately.  First a fire, then an earthquake, then a hurricane.  At least the hurricane put out most of the fire. Almost everyone has their electricity back, and damage was actually not too bad for most people.

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