Touch­ing wood for safety’s sake

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If we in our house are seen con­tin­u­ally in con­tact with wooden ob­jects, it all re­lates to that su­per­sti­tion or old wives tale that “touch­ing wood” will keep bad things from hap­pen­ing, that this touch on wood will keep us safe. So far this spring and sum­mer we have been sur­pris­ingly lucky at miss­ing out on the distress­ing af­ter­math of the storms that have plagued this prov­ince and other ar­eas of the coun­try. Sure we’ve had to drive in some rain show­ers, one or two of them re­quir­ing a slower speed, some flash­ing lights on the ve­hi­cle and some time on the shoul­der watch­ing the rain in front and on­com­ing cars through the rear-view mirror. There was a bit of thunder and some light­ning but noth­ing so se­ri­ous as to put our jour­ney or our lives in dan­ger. We are count­ing our­selves lucky that only once this year has Mother Na­ture ex­pressed her dis­plea­sure on a per­sonal ba­sis: knock­ing leaves and branches off the trees in our back­yard; send­ing hang­ing bas­kets of flow­ers on a dam­ag­ing trip and rip­ping the plants from the soil; dis­turb­ing the blooms of petu­nias, lilies and marigolds in the flowerbeds; and drop­ping small bits of hail on ve­hi­cles and shin­gles. None of this storm held a can­dle to what other friends in var­i­ous parts of the city ex­pe­ri­enced, mak­ing one thank­ful but also cu­ri­ous as to how storm paths are de­ter­mined as they leave one area mostly un­scathed while others are dev­as­tated. This has al­ways been a puz­zle and will likely con­tinue to be­fud­dle even the most ex­pe­ri­enced weather per­son. A few days af­ter we re­turned from a trip to On­tario, we heard of flooded streets and washed out road­ways in and near the city of Kenora, a city we had passed through only a short time be­fore. We com­mented on how lucky we were to have missed this heavy rain­storm. On that trip home as we neared the Man­i­toba bor­der, we saw wa­ter in ditches along­side the high­way, fields with grow­ing crops were cov­ered in wa­ter and tree branches clut­tered side roads that held deep ruts filled with wa­ter. As we lis­tened to a Man­i­toba ra­dio sta­tion, we learned that just the night be­fore, a rain­storm, with high winds, had hit the area, leav­ing crops, fields, base­ments and streets flooded, and large, old trees up­rooted by the winds. We dis­cussed how lucky it was that we dal­lied a bit, stay­ing in On­tario one more day and thus miss­ing be­ing caught in the storm. On the July long week­end we trav­elled to Este­van for the 50th an­niver­sary of long-time friends. We stayed in a mo­tel in a low-ly­ing area of the city, with road con­struc­tion ad­ja­cent to the even lower park­ing lot. Ex­actly on week later, the city had to de­clare a state of emer­gency be­cause of the flood­ing from heavy rains. Pho­tos showed the area of the mo­tel be­ing one part of the city with in­tense flood­ing. We com­mented on how once again we had missed a rain-in­duced flood. A trip on the Au­gust long week­end took us to York­ton to at­tend the an­nual thresh­er­men’s thresh­ing bee and en­ter­tain­ment. Our mo­tel was sur­rounded by con­struc­tion to in­stall an up­graded sewer and wa­ter sys­tem. We left York­ton early that Sun­day morn­ing and learned later in the evening that huge amounts of rain had fallen in an hour’s time, leav­ing parts of the city in a flood­ing sit­u­a­tion. Pho­to­graphs the next day showed that the street lead­ing to our mo­tel was un­der wa­ter and al­though we didn’t see the con­struc­tion zone, it is likely it and the ho­tel park­ing lot were also in the flood area. What a wise de­ci­sion we had made to leave the city when we did. It could be sug­gested that our pres­ence might have some­thing to do with the bad luck others are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing — I hope that isn’t the case be­cause our hearts go out to any­one af­fected by the storms. In fact, I doubt we are to blame as we have not been close to some of the ar­eas in Al­berta and Bri­tish Columbia that have had weather sit­u­a­tions. I like to think some­one is di­rect­ing our trav­els to avoid these sit­u­a­tions, but touch­ing a few pieces of wood might be a smart way to add an­other mea­sure of safety. Joyce Wal­ter can be reached at ron­joy@sask­

Joyce Wal­ter

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