Monday, October 17, 2005

Fields of Asparagus

Most days around here are a little chaotic. Two kids & a little too much work crowd things up a bit....and when there is down time, I really try to cram as much relaxation in as possible. So by Saturday afternoon (after working almost twenty hours on my feet on Friday, and going back into work on Saturday morning) I was ready to lay around completely boneless. "The only thing that will get me off the couch" I thought, "is if the house is on fire".
As luck would have it, I got word from Sam that the fire department around the corner was going to set a house on fire... well, not exactly a house, but a little house-like shed that they built in a parking lot to use as part of their fire safety demonstration. Now I don't know about you, but if someone is blowing something up, setting something on fire, or doing anything with pudding - I'm there.
Relaxing, right? Go around the corner, watch a house burn down, maybe get some ice cream... and I'll be face down on the couch again in no time... dozing away.... perhaps dreaming of someday owning an asparagus farm, sitting on the back porch with the kids looking over my vast expanse of asparagus... warm summer breeze... savory tender tips gently swaying in unison like an endless green crewcut...
So we go. Two parents, two kids, light spring jackets, one milk in sippie cup, one snack in side pocket, two shells, a plastic Triceratops, and a backup plastic Iguanadon in case the Triceratops somehow fails to perform. We get to Berwyn Fire Co. No. 3 a few minutes early, and there is the usual fire safety hubbub - a guy in a dalmation suit, "Check Your Batteries!" keychains with a little picture of a smoke detector, a yellow balloon for Sam, etc... Just in time, it appears, because as we are jostling for position, a fireman is setting up a protective barrier so the seething crowd of toddlers won't get too close to the flames. Soon, the fluttering yellow caution tape is securely tied to the second trash can, and we're officially safe and ready to roll. Sirens sound, and the house bursts into flames. Really big flames. Really quickly. For a small town fire safety day, I'm really impressed... and really hot. Sam is on my shoulders and suddenly still. I look around and everyone is still - toddlers, parents, and firemen alike - caught up in the majesty of huge orange flames as they roll like waves into the sky. For a moment, the Eckert parking parking lot is our own Los Alamos... The firemen spring into action... trucks pull up, hoses unravel, masks go on, and axes fly... then, just as the water hits the blaze, the wind shifts.
What a moment ago was "fun for the whole family" is now "choking cloud of death for the whole family" as great billowing columns of smoke somehow manage to cross over the protective layer of caution tape and envelop the crowd. Sam and I manage to make our way into the firehouse just as the wind shifts again, and we turn to see what remains of the little house as the hoses are turned off - a small pile of charred wood. A really small pile. The lesson of the day apparently, was if a small structure catches on fire, you should immediately call Home Depot and order building materials for another small structure because even if the fire department is seven feet away, there is no way they'll be able to put it out fast enough. As a matter of fact, if you have a small structure, you might want to seriously consider hiring someone to continuously spray water on it in case it happens to ignite.
With the excitement of our miniature Manhattan Project over, I am standing around with Sam on my shoulders looking at the aftermath when another unfortunate gust of wind blows the yellow balloon out of Sam's hands. For those of you who don't know, there is definitely some sort of balloon hierarchy, and with the yellow balloon behind only red and mylar balloons, it is still worth risking your life for. Quick as a flash, Sam jerks his body backwards and flips himself off of my shoulders. In a heartbeat, he is gone, and time seems to freeze. As he falls headfirst towards the asphalt behind me, I have some sort of 80's flashback montage playing in my head. Sam's first words, first steps, first solid food... his first song and our first soccer game play out, and as it occurs to me that we may never get the chance to look out over our waving asparagus fields I reach behind me and find an ankle. I grab, not even sure what I'm holding onto yet, and as I look around I see him dangling from my left hand so close to the ground that his hair is touching the street.
Later, when he has calmed down and we're walking home I panic a little. Too close for comfort, and I think I might make Sam wear a helmet from now on, even while he is outside watering the shed.

1 comment:

Jeanne said...

Hey - I commented on this last night! What happened to it?!?! I demand a refund!

Nice blog, though. Far more profound, beautiful, and funny than any of my tummy-trouble rantings. Sort of where Dave Barry meets Jerry Seinfeld. Good company, right ?

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