Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Hot One in the Small Town This Morning

I was going to begin this post with the assertion that "I saved the day!" Then I reviewed the situation in my head and realized I'd be better served by crawling under a rock to hide in embarrassment than trying to claim any responsibility for the successful resolution of the emergency on Old Route 2.

I was taking the scenic route home from dropping off The Boss at pre-school when I noticed flames shooting up from a wood pile situated beneath a simple roof atop four posts. The metal chimney sticking through the low peak was beginning to spew smoke. It sort of made sense. It didn't totally seem out of place. I take the scenic route quite frequently in our bucolic neck of the woods, and small bonfires are common occurrences. I drove on.

About three quarters of a second later, my mental processes sent up the danger flare. The burning wood I had seen was stacked neatly and high. There was enough there to heat a New England home for a month. I began to question the logic of purposely burning it in its stacks. Something was not right. I turned around in a driveway and backtracked to the scene.

The flames were spreading brightly. I puzzled over the incongruity. I picked up the phone. This is the embarrassing part. I called The Partner.

"Okay, you gotta answer me fast. This is important. Is there any situation in which a person would purposely burn wood stacked up in a shed?" I asked.

"What?"

"God! Just answer me! I don't want to call 9-1-1 if this is, like, normal, but I'm driving home on Old Route 2 and there's wood in a shack and it's burning!"

"Um, I don't know. I guess," he muttered. Then the head shake I could almost hear over the phone: "What?"

I blew out air up past my upper lip in a frustrated sigh. "Now the roof is on fire. This has to be an emergency. I gotta go. Bye."

Then, and only then, did I call 9-1-1. A heavy breeze swept peals of orange and red in curls around the posts of the shed. The heat bit back at the wind.

It never ceases to amaze me what I take as commonplace. Each day is normal until proven otherwise. My instincts are buried beneath routine. I should've known right away that something was amiss; upon second glance, I should've called in the Fire Department.

There are those that tell us to "be vigilant." That's well and good, if you can see past the quotidian haze. I don't always look that deeply. And when I do notice something awry, I question myself, not the scene.

Now I know not to assume that a February fire in an open field is there only to ward off the chill.

5 comments:

slouching mom said...

god, i've missed you, binky.

Chris said...

What about the two subsequent calls to discuss the situation? And whether or not you needed to stick around for questioning by the fire department in case they deemed the conflagration to be arson. My co-workers must think we live exciting lives.

Jerri Ann said...

Holy Cow! I remember when my mom's house burned over 4 years ago, she wasn't home, she was having her hair done. I called her after the house was basically completely gone and I knew that she should be returning soon.

I said, "mom, your house has burned down so when you start home, don't get upset by all the black smoke"

and that's when all of my relatives that were standing around watching it burn looked at me like I had grown 2 heads.

Mom was like, "UH?" I said it again. I said, "no need to hurry, just when you get finished come on back home."

It was a Friday afternoon (my b-day to be exact) and it was almost 5 pm. I had already called the insurance company and made arrangements for the adjuster to come the next day with a check to get her by for a little while.

Again, my relatives acted as if I was a complete fool. But, my mom and I handle things really different than most. There was no emotions, no crying, no jumping up and down and worrying done by either of us while it was happening. About 2 weeks later, we were both down for 2 or 3 days with a migraine.

So, I knew it was ok to call my mom and say, "dude you don't have a place to live anymore"....and again....much to the shock of everyone around us.....

I don't know why I just told you that big ol' story, but...whatever....apparently I talk to much.

Heather said...

I'm 100% sure I'd doubt myself too.

Lauren said...

This happened to me once in Vermont. I saw flames shooting out of a nearby chimney en route to the bar and pannnnnnicked. Holy shit! That house has a chimney fire!! And they don't even know it!!! And they're all probably just sitting by it not knowing that the whole chimney is engulfed!!! I drove to the bar anyway and was later told that that was a sugar house. Notice I said "later"... was i just gonna let those people burn? But there is no cell service in VT and these people know more than I do. Right? HA!