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Monday, 15 October 2012

October Rains

By Jeanne Waite Follett of Gullible's Travels

When I hear the October rains thrumming on the roof, I think about Girdwood, the little ski resort town some 35 miles south of Anchorage where I lived many years ago.

The October rains bloated the creek that came down from the glacier at the top of the mountain. It then jumped its banks, washed away its bridge and caused untold mischief as it ran wild through the resort and into the subdivision full of weekend ski cabins.

It always happened at night when it was too dark to see the extent of the problem and we never had adequate rain gear in those days, so we’d add cold and wet to our worry.

I lived there at a time in my life when I thought it utterly cool to have no telephone, no radio or television, no running water, no plumbing and a little Quaker pot-burner oil stove for heat. Once the mercury in the thermometer went way south of zero degrees, that Quaker had a hard time keeping the temperature in the cabin from heading there also.

On those nights, I bundled up in my warmest clothes, put the old wooden straight-back chair right up next to the Quaker, cranked the fuel flow as high as it would go and darned near hugged that stove trying to stay warm.

This was the oldest inhabited cabin in the valley at the time. No insulation, just thick boards with shingles on the outside and beaver board panels on the inside.

It was the roof that created the link to the October rains, though. The first time I climbed into the attic to see what was up there, I didn’t need a flashlight. The corrugated tin roof looked like a colander, points of light shining in from all directions like spotlights gone berserk.

No wonder it leaked. No wonder it took my entire meager supply of cooking utensils to catch the worst of the drips, plus any pails and buckets I could round up.

Old Billy, the sourdough who’d lived in the cabin forever, didn’t like the squirrels in the attic. He’d plink away at them with a little pistol whenever he heard them up there, hence the perforated tin roof.

It could have been worse. Because Old Billy was shooting from the inside out, the metal roofing was puckered outwards, so much of the water running down the roof washed around the bullet holes rather than into them.

Between that and his lousy aim whenever he spit his tobacco juice, there was a lot of work to make the cabin inhabitable after Old Billy died and my future landlord bought it.

Nonetheless, after I’d lived there a couple years, I came home one night, turned on the light and caught a glimpse of movement heading my way at the same time I felt something brush my hair.

When I started breathing again and went to see what my Siberian husky had trapped in the corner, I saw it was a little bat. I wonder if that’s what Old Billy had been shooting at up there in the attic.

Eventually all the bullet holes were covered with tar and that stopped the leaks. I never went back into the attic, though. I could hear those little bats up there at times, squeaking and rustling around. And that was okay with me, as long as they stayed in the attic, ate their fair share of mosquitoes and stayed out of my hair.

Tonight, the time is long after midnight and here I sit remembering and telling stories. If I go downstairs to bed, I won’t be able to hear the rain and there is something about the October rains, something that compels me to listen.

October Rains Cabin

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Jeanne - Great story!

When we were first married we lived on the third floor of a multistory apartment building in Boston. I rigged up a tin-covered plank outside the bedroom window, so we could listen to the nighttime 'October' rain! - Sandy

Wonderful story! I felt llike I was there. I hope you have more stories for all of us. Thanks.

My son tells the story of buying his first little (and I mean little)house.

He was so proud of himself and went to bed the first night listening to the "October rain".

When he got up in the morning he found out that the lovely and soothing sounds of the rain on his roof was really his hot water heater leaking all over the utility room which adjoined the bedroom.

I did enjoy reading your story and am fascinated by your living in the Alaskan woods with no services at all. Brave you..

Tell us more about that next time,please!

I too love listening to the first October rains but Seattle has been without rain for so long, almost 92 days I think, and last Sat, the day it started raining again my husband and I were on the plane to Phoenix where it is hot and no rain. I will miss the smells and feels of rain in the air so thanks for your wonderful story. And yes, you were brave to live as you did.

Seems as though it's been raining every day this October in southwestern Michigan. But we have no bullet holes! Good story.

I think there is nothing like the wonderful sound of rain on a tin roof. I don't think that I,however, being a Southerner, could have endured such cold weather. A nice story.

Having lived in much the same conditions for a couple of years (our stove was wood-fired) this brought back memories. We were adventurous as young parents, eager to give our boys the taste of "real life" as the pioneers might have lived it. Those days still come back to me in dreams, the dark depths of the woods, the spring our water came from, the desperate shoveling of snow off the roof when we had six foot's worth in a single night and the rafters were creaking under the weight. Holed up in a city condo, freighted by age, those are days I long for. Thanks for bringing them to me again.

The first sign of rain in our house begins with splats of water sounding on the glass skylight in our front hall. Our ears tune in hoping the splats will turn into the drumming sound that indicates our lawn and flowerbeds are receiving a drink they have longed for all to often during this dry summer..
Your story was great.

Girdwood is such a wonderful place. My favorite time there was spent at the top of the mountain in the restaurant watching skiers go down the hill. One thing that I may have missed reading here is that Girdwood is rainforest. The leaves on the trees are huge from all the rain. Youmust have endured a great deal of rain. And yes, the cold is bad. Thanks for sharing the story. We enjoyed it.

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