I went to the store last night to pick up a few things and found that the entire population of the Sacramento valley had been there first. More than half of the bread was gone, there were no bananas, and when I went to pick up some almonds that were on sale, the bin was empty. I've never seen Raley's so poorly stocked. The gentleman who keeps the produce stocked and looking appealing told me that they simply hadn't expected to be so busy that day and that they would have some more bananas in soon. In fact, they may be there today, but I didn't look. But! As I meandered around the store I found a second bin of almonds that had plenty available, so I had some luck with that. Yay!
I was the only clinician on my side of the office scheduled to come in today, so I couldn't avoid trekking in through the heavy rain and winds this morning. I wasn't brave enough to hazard the freeway, so I took surface streets in. There was very little traffic, but the commute had plenty of challenges. As I tried to see past the sheets of rain, I had several types of road hazards to avoid.
There were palm fronds scattered in heaps around their trees, discarded Christmas trees that had been sent traveling through the streets like tumbleweeds, empty and half-empty garbage cans that had been blown over, and, of course, the ever present puddles. Now I don't mean those cute little puddles that were fun to jump in and out of when we were kids.
No, these were mutant puddles that were feeding off the rain and off the small hybrid cars that lacked the wariness to avoid them.
I made it safely to work and saw exactly one patient this morning. All the others called in while I was busy with that one and rescheduled, hoping to come on days where their chances of being blown off the road, crushed by a falling limb, or swallowed by a mutant puddle would be slightly reduced.
Shortly before lunch, I learned that my services wouldn't be needed in the afternoon either, as the doctor whose patient I would have been testing had been called into surgery, with all the afternoon's patients rescheduled.
I stayed through lunch to attend a coworker's going-away party, then signed out and headed home. The rain had picked up while I was at work and was now working with the wind to design breaking waves of water similar to those called up by Mickey Mouse as the sorcerer's apprentice in Fantasia, only without the benefit of brooms. I'm sure it would have been a lovely sight, but since my windshield wipers couldn't keep up with the amount of water pouring from the sky, I can't say for certain.
I do know that the amount of branches on the roadway had at least tripled. There were areas where lanes were blocked by fallen branches as large as some of the trees in my back yard. Other lanes were impassable simply from the volume of water on the roadway. It was flooded over the curb and completely covering the sidewalk at one intersection. Cars drew together like stranded campers huddling together for warmth as they tried to stay out of the worst of the flooding. It would have been a touching Hallmark moment if it hadn't made me fear for my life.
The air, while clean from the scouring it was getting, carried the scents of the broken trees to me even with the windows rolled up on my car. As I passed different neighborhoods, the sharp smell of Eucalyptus would make itself known, only to be nudged out of the way by the tang of pine sap. If palm trees have a characteristic smell, I can't recognize it. I think they only attempted to leap under my tires to draw attention to their sad, scentless plight.
Eventually I made it back to my home, my sanctuary. My sanctuary that had been without electricity since I left that morning. Thankfully, my husband had stayed home and had a cheerful fire going in the wood stove. The house was cozy and warm.
Still, cozy and warm only takes you so far when the light fades and I can no longer see the pages of the book I'm trying to read. We left our older son sleeping off his day, spent herding small children, and took ourselves off to find light, coffee, and free Wi-fi. That's right. We're hanging out at Panera Bread.
Eventually we'll head back home. If nothing else, we should try to eat what's in the fridge before it has a chance to spoil. I heard on the radio that there are about 350,000 people in the greater Sacramento area, including up in the foothills, who are without power. Last time we had outages this widespread, we were without power for several days. Still, we have water, we have lamps and oil to keep them going, we have wood and a stove to burn it in for warmth.
And when we need to get away, there's always Panera.