The Quixotic Pastor

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

6 Years Ago Today I Was ...

... working in tiny little Kewadin, Michigan, far, far away from TVs. I didn't even have the radio on. It was a beautiful almost-autumn day, cool and crisp in the morning, brilliant sunshine pouring like honey into the windows as the day lengthened. I could step out of the office, look across acres and acres of farmland and orchards to see the trees just beginning to turn orange, red, yellow.

The only disaster I thought I would deal with that day was the checkbook for my BIL's business.
DH called me from her job. "Do you know what's going on?"

"Um, no."

"You aren't near a TV or a radio?"

"No, I'm in BIL's office --what's up?"

She told me that there had been a terrible accident, that a plane had flown into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. "Didn't you visit there when you were working in Manhattan last year?"

"Yes, we went up into the visitors' center and walked around on the observation deck on one of the towers. That was the first part of September too..."

"Wait," DH said, "something else is going on --I'll call you back!"

So I go back to the checkbook.

When DH called back, she said, "Honey, I think you better go down to the house and look at the TV --they think we're under attack. Another plane has flown into the other tower, and they're saying something about the Pentagon."

I gave up on the checkbook --suddenly, it no longer appeared to be much of a disaster.

And this is why, 6 years later, the whole thing still seems so surreal to me, still so hard to believe: because I was in the middle of nowhere, in almost absolute solitude, working in silence and beauty, on something as tangible and easily grasped as numbers in a checkbook.

While I was not paying attention, the world changed.


When I left about 6 pm that evening, I noticed something absolutely bizarre for tiny little Kewadin. Cars were lined up four deep on each side at the two somewhat decrepid gas pumps at the little local party store/grocery/deli. And the price of gas had shot up to $2.99. $2.99!!!

I glanced down at my gauge ... about a quarter of a tank, not enough to get me home. I'd normally gas up in Kalkaska, but I was afraid my usual station may have run out of gas before I got there. So, down the road a piece --and into the very long line at the Shell station in Elk Rapids. Probably the entire Elk Rapids police force was there, directing traffic and keeping order in the line. I hadn't waited in lines like this since the late 70's --and I damn sure hadn't EVER spent $2.99 a gallon for gas.

My car radio was tuned to NPR's round the clock coverage by this time, and I knew that every airplane had been grounded and every airport closed. Glad I wasn't at an airport.

30 minutes later, I drove on --and there was very, very little traffic. It was so quiet. Even on US 127 [for some reason I felt safer going "the back way"] I was pretty much the only car on the road. Most folks were probably at home, glued to their TV sets, thinking it wise to conserve gasoline.

I just wanted to get home.


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