Long-Distance Weather Empathy

May 4th, 2010 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

In another brief sadness, I think how much my late mother would have enjoyed our recent water crisis. It wasn’t that she was mean, but temperature, precipitation and nature news gave her yet another moment to empathize, commiserate or identify with her distant son.

Some wit called the Weather Channel the MTV of the senior set. That was true enough for her. She lived in Santa Fe, which was a splendid touchstone. Look at the serpentine isotherms from their mountains to our ocean and you’ll often find a solid path and the same temperature. She liked that. She’d catch the weather and let us know before we had noticed that we had the same.

In this case, she would have been concerned for our health and the inconveniences of boiling water. Then again, she ran Red Cross chapters when we grew up, leading disaster preparedness weekends for hundreds of emergency responders. Boiling water was a wee part of those. Likewise, I camped many times a year with family or Boy Scouts. Boiling stream and lake water was part of the shtick.

In fact, I bet she would not have trumped us with Santa Fe being in its tenth or so year of drought. Instead, we had a scant three days of pseudo-emergency.

This morning I had coffee (TC’s found water somehow, somewhere) with City Councilor John Connolly. He and I concurred that, yes it was a better-safe-than-sorry routine, and yes, we did boil our water, but it was extremely likely that the pond and reservoir water that replace our usual in the pipes was quite safe. Also, as far as I’ve seen, no one has had any ill effect of drinking tap water from Saturday into Tuesday.

Instead, we saw the predictable baseness and stupidity of the worst of us. As with any pending snowstorm or nearly any remarkable weather, the hoarders went into crazy-selfish mode. This time they emptied the stores of jugs and bottle of water, vastly more than they would need. They literally would reject the human quality of shared need to be damned sure they had theirs. It’s a bit amusing now to think of the many with 10, 20 or 50 gallons of expensive water. I bet they even think it was wise and necessary. Harrumph!

In a vaguely related joke, the pump arrived today. Back in the multiple floods of March, during the wettest season on record in Boston, we had a utility pump, which did a fine job on the first basement-floor flood. Come the second one though two weeks later, it failed.

Home Depot was very pleasant in giving us a credit for our new dead pump, but the hoarders had been there. Both my wife and I trotted to home centers and hardware stores to hear there wasn’t a pump available in eastern Massachusetts.

Too much water, too little water…let us stop and enjoy the humor of it.

Regardless, we may never again have such a supersaturation of the ground here and the flood it brought. My form of better-safe-than-sorry was to order a pump to have at the ready.

This time, I had the luxury of shopping around, reading customer reviews and comparing features. I ended up going, as usual to Northern Tool. They have nearly everything, at fine prices, and often free shipping.

pumpOf course, even I know it was funny that I was pleased when the pump arrived last evening. The no-clean (maybe)-water crisis was basically over and the floods seemed so distant in sun and 83 degrees. Yet, just owning the pump, which I hope never to use, is reassuring.

As it were for my second flood, I used the six-gallon capacity wet vac for 200 or more suck-and-dump operations over two days to keep ahead of the water. I had blisters and many stiff muscles. I’d rather never do that again. I think hooking the hose to the pump, running the free end out the window and plugging in my new buddy is more my idea of the task.

So, here we are, living in a place and time where water is not even a consideration. We twist the spigot, plunge the toilet handle, and pay the monthly bill — the cheapest of our utilities.

Yes, we know vaguely that a few in the United State and a few billion in the larger world do not have potable water or enough for themselves or their crops. Allegedly during the past several days, many here have waxed empathetical about the deprived. I question their situational sincerity. They, as I, are used to water as desired.

Not too little water and not too much, if you please. That generally doesn’t seem a lot to ask to those of us accustomed to that. At least it didn’t seem untoward until recently.

My mom would have had some wisdom for both the floods and the (maybe) impure water. I know she would have relished the commentary.

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