With our wet October and now a predicted hurricane marching towards us, I’m drawn back to your time. Back to when an early November storm pounded Vermont relentlessly for three days, driving already rain swollen rivers to their breaking point. Back to the ’27 flood…
Please indulge me while I allow my over-fertile imagination to soar. This is part one of the story…
Would these rains never end?
Rosa searched the purple-black clouds that continued to release their torrents. Hadn’t they had enough already? The fields could no longer hold all that water; their pastures were slush; the animals sunk over their hocks in mud. Disgusted, she let the curtain fall back in place and turned away. Autumn colors were gone, taken by the non-stop October rains leaving her with nothing but gray. The grays of November.
Henry came in then, stamping his boots and wiping the wet from his face. “And how’s our wee little one faring, love?” He asked. The concern in his blue eyes was met with concern of her own.
”A cold and Mary’s worried, but I believe Clarence’ll pull through just fine.”
“Damn rains,” he cursed softly.
She watched him hang his slicker up to dry and knew, with the moisture that permeated every nook and cranny of the old house, it wouldn’t. Everything felt wet and drafty and uncomfortable. No wonder so many were falling sick.
“You’ll have coffee?”
Her question was met with a nod as he headed to the small wood stove to stoke it back to life. She set the kettle to boil and watched the wind pick up outside the window. The curtains moved freely as if unencumbered by the pane of glass.
It’s to be a long, cold night, then.
Busy hands paused in their task when the front door opened and she heard Henry, her son-in-law talking in quiet tones to her husband. Their muffled voices revealed what she had sensed since that afternoon. Another of Mary’s babies had succumbed to the fever.
He needn’t say anything. The blue eyes said it all. Rosa simply went to collect her medicine bag and wrap and left quickly. Both knew far too well how devastating pneumonia could be to a child. 1902 was 25 years ago… My God, our little Fredie would’ve been a man now, with a family of his own…
A biting wind carried the bitter thought away.
Mary was glad for it, she could see, glad her mum had arrived to help her with the crying bundle in her arms and the one clinging to her skirt. Scarlet cheeks screamed what Rosa did not want to hear.
“Come, child and hush,” she bent to lift the little one. “Let’s see to that hurt.” Rosa, the healer and damned if she would never let another slip away without a fight.
“Thank you, Mum,” Mary whispered.
“Go now, settle Clarence in, I’ll check on you shortly.”
It would be a long night. Mary’s house would see two more fall to the fever during the blackest hours. But Rosa would be there. She knew what herbs lowered a temperature; which ones soothed so a child could rest. She understood the panic that gripped her daughter and quietly went about her business, tending, soothing and comforting.
She was their rock that night. A lifeboat in a raging sea.
By sheer determination and the grace of God, Rosa brought them through to see another dawn break. One of cold rains and wind and hope.