Sunday, April 12, 2009

take me to the promised sand














Last week's sandbagging adventure wasn't enough, so I showed up to show the river up again.

Some homes here inundated with water overnight, flooding basements and half-drowning parked cars. Volunteers raced to sandbag with the few artillery they'd kept in reserves. Officials had released my county's sandbags to neighboring towns fighting floods down south, leaving few sandbags to rely upon should the waters rise again. So they called the city to help bundle more.

Since I am the sandbag savior and all, I figured the least I could do was pick up the phone. And a shovel.

Armed with a red sweatshirt and two grocery bags around my legs (to prevent water seepage in both my home and footwear apparel) I tried not to crinkle with every step. If not for the melodies of Bobcats, payloaders and prison-inmate banter, I'd have sounded a sprinting woman sporting a jumbo maxi.

Which gave me an idea... if the sandbags don't work, we could always try feminine napkins. 

But before I brought that idea to the city council, I perched upon my upside-down bucket Saturday morning, ready to catch sand in my chest, nose and hair. If any was left over, we'd put some in a bag too. 

Suzie, my new sandbag sister, manned her shovel and worked it like a lady.

And by lady, I mean the retired farmer with 40 years of garden hoe experience, commented on Suzie's agility, dexterity and sheer shovel-prowess. For two hours, Suzie lifted her shovel up and bent down to alter my inside-out tweed sand holders. 

Back and forth, up and down she went for two straight hours without taking one break, deep breath or sweaty brow. 

In fact, Suzie made me feel so inept, after seven hours of sandbagging, I sent myself to the gym.

But we aren't done yet. 

In addition to bagging sand, that day I also built dikes. 

Some rural homes had water issues of their own, so volunteers hauled bags through backyards and flooded driveways building a dike and tearing up
landscaping.

For most of the project, we stood in an alternating line, tossing what felt like overweight toddlers. Some of the toddlers must have had accidents however, as my red sweatshirt is no longer so. 

At one point, the gaps between me and my neighboring tossers were so large, I needed a hop, skip and a U-haul to get from one person to the other. 

Whoa! hey, a fellow tosser said. We can shift a little so you don't have to toss as far.

Don't worry about me, I said, to both the dude and the James River. Bring it on.

He didn't let me, but I didn't at all feel bad about flexing my muscles after. Suzie had me and every other sandbag tosser beat. But my biceps followed closely behind.

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