Writers in the Flood

I had a perfectly good reason for not posting last night. Our internet went out in the middle of the afternoon yesterday, and stayed out for the rest of the day and all evening. I went to a writers meeting in the evening and when I came back, we still had no internet. That really put me in a bind, because I needed to print out my notes for the class I’ll be teaching tomorrow, but my printer is wireless and requires an internet connection in order to operate.

So I packed and prepared for Writers in the Field, and went to bed at midnight disappointed. And wide awake. I think I finally dropped off to sleep after 3:00 in the morning. I had no choice but to get up at 6:00 and prepare to go, but I kept checking the internet “just in case.” Finally I had to wake my husband up and ask if I could plug a flash drive into his computer and print my notes on his printer, which is an old-fashioned “wired” one.

As a result, I left quite a bit later than I wanted to, and was made even later by driving through rain all the way. Sometimes it was so heavy it sounded like I was driving through a hail of bullets instead of a rainstorm. There were also two traffic jams due to accidents which slowed me even more.

I finally pulled up to the venue in pouring rain, only to be turned away as the field they use for parking was too sodden to use. I was directed up the road to a gravel area where I could park. So instead of being right outside the gate, like I had planned, I was half a mile away. There would be no quick trips out to the car for any reason.

I gloomily ate my thermos omelet and drank a fortifying cup of tea before rallying my resources and getting myself organized. I regretted my decision to wear an ankle-length skirt, but there was nowhere to change. The rain was coming down in buckets. Thank goodness I had to foresight to stop by Walmart yesterday and get a cheap rain poncho. I needed it!

Since I hadn’t had time to make myself the bag I wanted, I was trying out a new tote bag that can double as a backpack—thank goodness. I opened the door of the car and set my flip-flop clad feet on the ground—only to have them sink into four inches of mud. I put on my tote bag/backpack, put my poncho on over the top of it, and opened my umbrella before sliding my feet out of the mud and slogging out to the road. It was a half-mile walk to the venue through a torrential downpour. Much of the time I walked through ankle-deep running water or mud.

But, when I finally made it to the registration desk, I was greeted with warmth and enthusiasm. There’s not much you can do when you’ve been planning an event for a year and it happens to fall on a day when severe weather moves in!

My first class was about world building. We all crowded around the instructor on the stage where we could be out of the downpour, and also close enough to hear her yelling over the pounding of the rain on the plastic roof! There was nowhere to sit and I hadn’t been able to lug my chair all the way from the car along with everything else.

After that I had signed up to help at the registration desk for two hours, which at least was indoors. While there, we learned that the food truck which was supposed to provide lunch had got stuck in a ditch and would not be making it. Tex (our fearless and resourceful leader) sent some minions out for pizza.

Then the tornado sirens went off. We were all herded through the rain, thunder and lightning to the only indoor space large enough for us all. Tex pointed out all the experts in the room and got everyone networking until the tornado warning was lifted. I surreptitiously rolled the waistband of my skirt up several times to try and get the sodden hem high enough up to be clear of the mud when I walked outside. The worst muddy spots had been strewn with cedar branches to provide some traction. It smelled heavenly!

I went back to the registration desk and eventually the pizza arrived. It was greeted with great joy by my coworkers! (And no, I was not even tempted, to be honest. It’s so not worth it.) When my volunteering stint was over, I set off to check out the “country living” station. Halfway across the gypsy grounds I realized that continuing to wear my flip-flops was pointless and possibly foolish. The mud kept trying to take them away from me and in some places was so slick I was in real danger of falling flat on my face.

So I picked up my footwear and continued on my way barefoot, with a big grin on my face. You know how many years it’s been since I walked barefoot in the mud? A lot. It brought back so many memories of going barefoot in Zambia in the rainy season. I stayed barefoot for the rest of the afternoon. It was the only thing that made sense, under the circumstances. Others were doing the same thing.

I did have to chuckle a little about it though. After a great class on Renaissance customs, I found myself in the Mead Hall in a nice comfy chair, attending a chocolate and tea tasting party. There I was in a high-class gathering, lit by chandeliers, with my mud-covered bare feet. I learned some new things about chocolate, though!

The last class for the day was on Victorian ladies’ clothing. The presenter has a large collection of museum quality historical ladies’ garments. I loved getting to see all the tiny handsewn details.

By then the rain had finally stopped, so I took my muddy bare feet out to the muddy road, and put my muddy flip-flops back on when I got to the part where the road was firm enough. I was a little worried that my car might have sunk too deep into the mud for me to be able to get it out, but I didn’t have any trouble.

I was a little self-conscious when I arrived at my hotel and walked into the lobby to check in. My feet and lower legs were absolutely filthy, but what could I do? I couldn’t get clean until I got to my room!

There is nothing quite so glorious as being warm, dry, and clean when you have been cold, wet, and dirty all day! I have spent the evening doing homework and reveling in the fact that the forecast for tomorrow morning is just “overcast.” I’m teaching at 10:00 in the morning and would appreciate your prayers!

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