Regardless of what this truck says, New Hampshire these days has been everything but boring. (Click on the image for an enlarged version.) On Friday night, for the second time in less than a week, my neighborhood was under a “voluntary mandatory” evacuation order, delivered via bullhorn by a fireman cruising my block in a lights-flashing firetruck. Although Friday night’s evacuation turned out to be a false alarm–despite an entire night of yet more rainfall, Keene had no new flooding–I’d surely appreciate it if someone could explain to me the semantics of a “voluntary mandatory” evacuation order. In the meantime, I never want to see another fireman shouting things from a slow-moving firetruck unless said firetruck is in a parade and said fireman is shouting “Happy 4th of July!”
Right now as I type these words, I can see a bit of blue sky overhead and a shaft of light trickling from the eastern corner of my yard: exciting stuff indeed. One interesting thing about being (temporarily) at the center of a Natural Disaster that put Keene (temporarily) in the National News is the level of exaggeration that is unwittingly applied to events seen only by Worst Case Scenario-seeking news crews. Yesterday I got a worried voicemail from my mother, who had heard half of a TV news story about Friday night’s rains in Keene and half of another news story about mudslides “somewhere.” Putting two and two together, my Mom jumped to the conclusion that Keene residents had been unable to return home from Friday night’s evacuation because mudslides had covered local roads, a version of the disaster that is blatantly untrue. But when you listen to the TV news with one ear–and when the TV news quickly cuts from one disaster in one place to another somewhere else–it’s easy to assume that all of Keene looks like parts of Alstead, Hinsdale, or Sullivan, where roads, bridges, and houses were swept away.
The best indication of how things are really doing in Keene these days, though, can be found on downtown parking meters, where paper signs proclaim No Parking for next Saturday’s Pumpkin Festival. (Click on the image for an enlarged version.) Yes, the annual Pumpkin Festival is on for next Saturday, despite naysaying accounts that it had been or would be cancelled. Although at least one area pumpkin patch lost part of its harvest to the flood, most locals (myself included) are looking forward to next weekend’s pumpkin extravaganza as a celebratory way of getting Back to Normal. After so much flood-related excitement over the past two weekends, it will be great to dry out, light thousands of carved pumpkins, and then get back to the Usual Boring immediately thereafter. Now that the Powers That Be have, for the time being, turned off the faucets and switched on the sunlight, I have two more requests: first, I’d like a bit more Boring, please. And second, I don’t want to see a repeat of this dooryard sight anytime soon: