Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A River Runs Through It

My town is divided by a river, which runs east west. North is the “town” side, where all the shops, gas stations, and town facilities are. South of town is a residential and rural zone. I live south of the river.

For a while, we had a really elderly, rickety iron bridge. It had to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 65 years old, and, man, that was a scary bridge to have to drive across to go grocery shopping or pick the kids up from school. Lots of townies wouldn’t go south of the river because that would mean crossing the scary bridge. Those of us who live to the south had no choice.

About 4 years ago, we finally got funding for a new bridge and construction began. That was freaky, too, since they built one side of the new bridge next to the old one, then blew up the old bridge, then built the second half of the new bridge. The whole time, the construction crews used temporary barriers at the sides, which I found really scary. I had to seriously gird my loins before driving across the bridge, since the very thought of maybe skidding on ice and doing a slow, permanent swan dive through the temporary barriers terrified the grits right out of me. We now have a modern bridge, and I can’t see over the edges of it, which suits my acrophobic self just fine.

The river also changes the weather. I know that sounds strange, but it can be raining cats and dogs on us, here to the south, and it’ll be sunshine and blue skies over the town. And we’re not even a full mile from the southern edge of town. This has led to some odd-sounding phone calls between my husband, from his in-town office, and myself, homemaking in the south.

“You guys had better get flashlights and a jug of water and head for the basement,” he said one day when he called.

“Why?” I asked. “It’s gorgeous out!”

“It looks like tornado weather here,” he replied.

“It looks like gardening weather here,” I responded. “Maybe YOU should go down to the basement.”

“Tornadoes jump rivers, you know,” he said sternly, “you should go to the basement.”

“I think you should put on a sweater,” I said.

“Why?” he asked, astonished.

“Because I’m cold,” I said.

“I hate it when you do that,” he said.

”What?” I asked.

“Use reverse logic,” he said, “it really irks me.”

“OK, I’ll go put a jug of water and a flashlight in the basement,” I answered.

“And I hate sweaters,” he added.

“I know,” I said, “which is why I don’t knit for you. Thanks for warning me about your tornado.”

This strange weather division has also led to bizarre moments at the dinner table. It’s almost as if we were two parts of a commuter marriage.

“What did you do today,” hubs would ask.

“I stayed in the basement with the dog,” I’d say.

“What the hell were you doing the basement,” he’d asked, surprised etched large on his face.

“Checking for water leakage and damage, and keeping the dog company,” I’d reply.

“Is there something wrong with the washing machine, “ he’d ask, amazed and worried.

“No,” I’d say, “It was the thunder and lightning and incredibly heavy downpour. I was worried that we’d get that leak on the south side of the house again that ruined the wallboard and stunk up the carpet.”

“What downpour?” he’d ask.

“Oh, lordy, it rained like crazy here today,” I’d answer.

“Didn’t get a drop. 93 degrees all damn day. Cost me a fortune to air condition today,” he’d say, and shove more casserole in his face, looking for all the world like he thought I periodically hallucinated thunderstorms just to confuse him.

Now that we’ve got a decade of experience with the river’s effect on our weather, we’re usually a little more cautious conversationally. Discussions might start with “did it rain in town today?” or “it was 99 degrees at my office today, what was it like here?” But, it still amazes us that the weather can be so different over a distance of less than a mile.

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