April 07, 2020

Taking things for granted never again

When Cindy Blodgett threw up a wild shot at the basket and went down with a foot injury in the University of Maine women’s basketball game against Boston University last Friday night it hushed the record-setting crowd at the Alfond Arena something fierce.

Blodgett, who led the nation in scoring the past two seasons and is making a run at an unprecedented third consecutive scoring title, had never missed playing in a scheduled basketball game in her entire life. Now, she’s temporarily out of action, her status day-to-day. And her legions of fans are left to ponder their great good luck that her injury was not more serious.

The incident brought home the truth in a couple of maxims that perhaps many Blodgett boosters had learned at their daddy’s knee. Like, “You never miss the water until the well runs dry, kiddo.” And, “Never look a gift horse in the mouth.” Also, do not take a good thing for granted. Ever.

When it comes to the admonishment about never growing content to accept the finer things in life as our just deserts, as they say, (although why “they” say that is, quite frankly, beyond me) the Blodgett setback was merely a preliminary to the main event.

That would be Nuclear Winter, which struck the state with a vengeance earlier this week. (One of the few things it appears that we may legitimately take for granted as a result of this perverse act of nature is that we surely are all about to slip-slide our way straight to hell in a hand basket before we’re done with it).

As I write this, the power has been off here on the Lower Penobscot for the past 36 hours, with no relief in sight. Hacking away on an old manual Royal typewriter in the doom and the gloom and the insidious creeping cold I am positive of one thing: After a couple of days of this deal, never again shall I take electricity for granted. Though I do not presume to speak for you, Central Maine Power could double its rate they charge me for its sweet, precious power — yea, triple it — and they’d get no squawk from me.

Outside, all about me trees are snapping under the weight of four days worth of ice, their tops and assorted offshoots thudding to the ground in a dramatic cascade of ice crystals and miscellaneous debris. The wooded area between me and the river looks like a scene from World War I after a particularly savage Allied artillery attack has snapped massive stock off 20 feet above the ground. The Argonne Forest, perhaps. Or the Battle of Verdun. What great fun it will be to clean up this bucolic battlefield come spring.

Add trees — nice, large, wholesome, full-flowered trees — to the list of things that most folks in these parts will undoubtedly no longer take for granted.

And cars. Anyone forced by circumstances to leave a vehicle outside during the past few days has quite likely, upon awakening, found it transformed into a block of ice on wheels with not much prospect of cracking into it short of blowtorch and crowbar. Some have succeeded in gaining forced entry only to find that the wheels are locked in ice. We have, I think, come to appreciate our modes of transportation and our ability to climb aboard and head out at the slightest whim more than ever before.

The New Ice Age has provided us with a list of other items that many of us perhaps found we never missed too terribly much until the well ran dry. Heat, for instance. And gasoline. Hot coffee. Television. A bath. The telephone. Running water. A trip to the mall, just for the hell of it. Food.

As well, no longer will we take for granted the inexpensive battery-powered transistor radio, nor public-spirited radio stations such as Bangor’s WVOM, 103.9 on your FM dial, which valiantly broadcast storm information non-stop during the darkest hours on Thursday while their competitors pretty much stuck to the scheduled format. Information is power, and at times such as these a person imprisoned in an ice-locked home, no heat and low on food, doesn’t need a whole lot of Golden Oldies or Top 40 stuff to tide him over. What he needs is reassurance from The Voice On The Radio that there is no sense worrying, because NOTHING is going to turn out OK. At least not until some time next week, if then.

Finally, on the list of things never again to take as foregone conclusions, we must not forget the people. Without the linemen, the fire and police personnel, the rescue crews and the legions of volunteers who have stepped up so magnificently to help out in this disaster-in-progress, the goose would have been cooked to a farethewell.

Provided, of course, there had been a backup cookstove to turn to. NEWS columnist Kent Ward lives in Winterport.

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