Saturday, my faith community, the local Friends Meeting, held a Meeting for Worship for Welcoming, signaling their recognition that Beloved and I have successfully negotiated a difficult life transition.
In Friends' tradition, the event was kept very simple. At noon, the welcome committee arrived at the meeting house to spread table cloths, set out dried-flower arrangements, and chop veggies and cheese. At one p.m., those who felt like singing gathered in the rec room and chose favorite songs from the hymnal, including Simple Gifts and This Is My Home (Finlandia). I also requested, and taught everyone, Stephen Foster's Hard Times. I'm working on a documentary, and wanted this for the soundtrack. Everyone was very obliging.
At 1:30 all moved to the Meeting Room and settled in for about forty minutes of silence, with some seasoned spoken ministry. Then we broke for a finger-foods potluck in the rec room (which is also the dining hall), and at 3:00 we all pitched in and did dishes and such, as another activity was coming in at 5:00.
We have had some serious storms in the region of late, with most of the worst of it coming through north of our area. The moisture is picked up in the vicinity of Hawai'i and funnels into the Northwest, bumping into the mountain ranges and unloading. Two, three inches in a day we shrug off, but these "pineapple express" clouds have been known to drop eight inches of water in twenty-four hours. I have seen a bow wave on the corner of my foundation, when our three-foot wide creek jumped its banks and was nearer 100 feet wide; that hasn't happened yet this year, but I think it's going to be one of the wet ones. Wonder where the footbridge will end up. I no longer have the strength or I would go and jack it out of the creek banks and store it.
Tonight, as I was coming home from work, I queued up with other vehicles to cross the Union Pacific onto the riverside road, and spotted the ghostly headlights of a train around the bend. Traffic was thick on the highway, and the pickup in front of me sat with its turn signal going, the light splitting into momentary rubies on my rain-swept windshield, for what seemed forever. At length it was my turn to jump across the tracks and wait, on the steep incline, to feed into that traffic flow, so I checked the train again (much closer now, but still over half a minute away), checked the crossing gates (not ringing or flashing yet), put the Saturn into first and trundled across.
There's only room for one car at a time on the downhill side of the tracks. We're country people and local, so we all know this, and everyone knows to stay well behind the spot where the crossing bar comes down. But every now and then, someone forgets - and the Honda behind me did just that, tootling up behind me as if taking up slack at a traffic light.
And the truck behind her did the same thing, trapping her with the tracks of the U.P. main line right under the middle of her car.
I felt the universe slow to a crawl. Must get out into the traffic now, my adreneline-hyped brain told me. I checked the oncoming cars. Too many, too fast, too close together, both ways. I checked the train. Closer. I checked the gate. Not coming down yet. If it does, will she have the sense to gun through it? I checked the pickup. Nope, he can't move either. Everyone has sidled up behind him, fifteen cars at least. I checked the traffic in front of me. A gap? Not really, but it would have to do. Flashing my headlights twice, I floored it, fishtailed down onto the highway, and cut to the left between two startled drivers. In the rearview mirror, I could see Mrs. Honda dropping down onto the edge of the intersection with the gate closing right behind her bumper. The train, horn howling, thrumbled by, with -- I counted as I drove, to calm myself -- four engines and fifty-seven loads of dimensional lumber. A lot of tonnage for any little Honda to take on, as that one had come within seconds of doing.
Hopefully she learned a little something there.
So much happens in the dark evenings hereabouts! And so much doesn't happen. You never know.