As we have learned in our pilgrimage to here, Amarillo was about the wind, Albuquerque was about sun, and Abbeville, Louisiana was about rain. It rains here one out of every three days, all through the year. And during our time here, the rain fell more than that (three days straight) creating broad brush-strokes of water – thick and heavy. It turned our Airstream into a drum as it beat down on the roof, and slapped against the sides. It shuttered the windows behind waterfalls. Ponds appeared behind our campsite, small trees tipped over into the soft earth. The forest of cypress trees turned into a swamp of cypress trees.
South Louisiana is all about the dance between water and the land. The land is sometimes dipping under the water, sometimes rising above the water in natural levees, and sometimes just filling in, creating prairies. And after the rains like we just had, it all changes once again.
Living through our first intensely rainy period of this pilgrimage brought us new experiences. With the rains, stuff got wet and stayed damp. Where do we hang this many wet clothes? Do we turn on the air conditioner to try to reduce the moisture, or the heat to try to dry things out? The ceiling-mounted fans in the Airstream are programmed to shut down in rain (good thing!) so do we buy some of the rain covers we have seen on other Airstreams so we can keep vents open? And how did all the mosquitoes get inside so quickly? Aren’t they genetically accustomed to rain by now, or are Louisiana mosquitoes different?
To break up the days of no-bike-rides, no-hiking, on Saturday we decided to drive about 90 minutes in the rain and attend the live radio broadcast I wrote about a few days ago. What I didn’t write about was that when we left the live concert on Saturday night, and it was still raining, the truck glistened in the wet night air but something looked different. And then I noticed it now had one flat tire. In the pouring rain, at 9:00pm in Eunice, Louisiana, we had a flat tire.
There is much to be grateful for in this life and AAA is right at the top of the list for us these days. Now these aren’t the guys who came to our assistance in Amarillo when we had a problem with the truck’s braking system. No, we believe in broadening the ranks of the providers of roadside assistance and on this night, the call went to AAA. A young man who should be considered for sainthood arrived two hours later, jacked up the truck as he knelt in about 6 inches of rain water, crawled under the truck to liberate the spare tire which Ford has decided to store there, and cranked it onto the truck. The drive home was a white-knuckle experience, which Peter and I shared by splitting the time behind the wheel.
That night our new roommates, the mosquitoes, were quiet so I called a truce in the mosquito wars for about 8 hours and slept really well under my “protective” top sheet. We spent Monday (with the rain abating somewhat) searching for a new tire and again, sainthood nominations are in order for a guy named Jude at Acadiana Rim in Lafayette who had the one specific tire that we needed. It was in stock and he fit us in that day. Plus, in true Louisiana fashion, he called me, “Miss Liz”. What is not to love about that guy?
Yesterday, by the time we had completed our hook up and made the trip to the dump station in Abbeville, the rain had stopped. The pond was receding back into the palmettos and while we are apparently still days away from sun, we could see the sky.
We then headed out to Mississippi, on our way to the panhandle of Florida, and as we hooked up to head out earlier today, Peter noticed that one of the tires on the Airstream was soft. Really. I’m not making this up.
He pumped it up enough so we could drive safely to what turned into our third set of would-be saints, the people at NTB in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. They pulled off the tire and found a sheet rock nail imbedded in the sidewall so, now, the Airstream spare is “on the ground”, and our newly purchased spare is up under the trailer. That makes two new tires in as many days.
Now there is a lot of opportunity here to try to make all of this into a story that means something. We both decided it doesn’t mean anything except that we are being taken care of by a legion of angels assigned to our pilgrimage to here. We are taking the time to pay attention to the grace that continues to illuminate our lives. May today be filled with unexpected grace for each of you.
Peter and Liz are on a pilgrimage to here across the U.S., changing tires and getting roadside assistance as needed, in their Airstream.