We learn more about Little Piney everyday , and today we learned something really important— DON’T DRIVE DOWN TO THE LAKE WHEN IT HAS RAINED 6 INCHES. And something really important about Bastrop—GOOD PEOPLE LIVE HERE.
A Rainy Sunday
It’s Sunday afternoon, and rain has been pouring down for an hour. The lake is about to flood its banks again, and the canoe and paddles are at risk of floating away; so when the heavy drops slow to drizzle, we hop in my truck and head down to the lake. We are driving along just fine when suddenly one wheel drops deep in the mud. In the process of trying to get out of the mud, both rear wheels become totally stuck.
At this point we aren’t worried because son-in-law Lane is here with his 4 wheel drive Tahoe. Miranda and I tie up the canoe and almost step on a wet, half-drowned gopher. What a strange creature with it’s tiny eyes and oversized hands.
Here comes Lane. He goes around the other way. He is driving on the road, no problem, and suddenly his truck sinks–just sinks–into some very soft sand.
Meanwhile, the water is rising. Soon my truck is surrounded. Soon, Lane’s truck is surrounded. I can’t find a wrecker that’s available, and anyway, a wrecker would probably sink, too. My neighbor calls all the wrecker companies in Bastrop. Lane and Miranda keep working to get Lane’s truck out. I decide to go for help in Miranda’s SUV—the only vehicle left.
Help From Strangers
Where would you find some guys to help on a Sunday afternoon out in the country? At the closest bar, I think, so that’s where I go. It’s not very far. I am relieved to see lots of trucks parked there as usual. I walk in, and in the smoky haze, I see everyone at the bar turn and look at me. I start talking: “I’m looking for some help. I live nearby. I’ll pay anybody fifty dollars to just come out and help us get two trucks out of the mud. The water’s rising, and we can’t get a wrecker. I just need some strong guys.” No one volunteers. I keep talking. Get my cash from the ATM. I notice my hands are shaking. I’m wet and my glasses are fogging over so I can’t read the ATM screen. They are talking among themselves. Heads shaking. Some laughter. Two guys reluctantly get up and say they’ll help. Others offer chains and throw them in the truck, and we head back to the mud and stuck trucks at Little Piney.
They determine it’s too risky to drive close to either truck so the the work will be done by hand. Lane’s truck is sinking and the water is rising. Working a hand ratchet called a “come along” for over an hour, Lane’s truck is pulled out of the water and driven a short distance to higher land. Unfortunately, it sinks down again—to the frame—but at least it’s out of the water. We are all sinking, too. Collapsing gopher tunnels criss-cross the field. As we walk one foot or the other disappears into a muddy hole. The two good samaritans from the bar have done all they can. They refuse my money, say they were sorry about my truck and I would need my money for that. “Come buy us a beer sometime.” And they left.
Meanwhile, my neighbor finds a wrecker to come out. However, he is 45 minutes away, and won’t drive his wrecker down a “soft road.” Pretty sure that means he won’t be rescuing my truck. However, he promises to come out to take a look.
Now, back at the house, feeling defeated, grieving my truck’s imminent demise, I see a wrecker and a truck down by the road. I think this is the guy I just talked to—maybe he felt sorry for me and came straight over! I meet two very young men at the gate. They say “Let’s go take a look.” Halfway back to the lake, I figure out they are different guys who had been sent over by someone at the bar. Although they had arrived with a wrecker, they own a jeep with a winch—something that can go where a wrecker can’t. They are confident they can go get the jeep and get my truck out. The question then is will they be back before the water rises another inch. At this point, the water is just below the door.
They take off to get the Jeep, and here comes the guy who sent them—Tim. He’s apologizing for for “taking the liberty” to call them! He was just sitting back at the bar, thinking the other two guys were gone too long and decided to call these young men to come to my rescue. While the two guys go to get the Jeep, Tim helps Lane who is trying to use the come along to get his truck out.
Now remember—the two guys from the bar, Tim, and the young men with the Jeep from Main Street Customs and Towing are all strangers. I am a wet, bedraggled woman, in hiking shorts and work boots, new to the neighborhood, who walks into a bar and asks for help.
The two young men are back in 25 minutes with a little Jeep made of mismatched parts with a winch attached to the top. First my truck is out of the water and back on the road. Next Lane’s truck is out of the mud and back on the road. The hole where his trunk sank is already full of water seeping up from the field.
They all stay for a beer and a chat. The Jeep rescuers are delightful young men with families. They tell stories about their kids and wives and drink a cold Lone Star. Tim “who took the liberty” to call them was taught by his parents to always stop and help a women or an older couple in need. Coincidentally, Tim’s ex-wife owns both the bar where I found Tim and his friends, and Grace Miller’s where I just completed painting a transformer mural with the friendly encouragement of all her staff.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors
What happened today reminds me of another flood when I was 12 years old. The day after my family’s home filled with muddy water from a rising creek. some neighbor boys showed up at the door to help clean up. They told me that some years before my father had gone out in the dark with a shovel and dug a trench that diverted rushing water from entering their home. Their mother sent them over, and they worked hard all day.
It’s late but I still can’t go to sleep. It’s hard to believe how quickly things went wrong this afternoon, how many hours we were down at the lake in the rain trying to save the trucks, and what a happy ending we had after all, I’m warm and dry in the house listening to more rain fall, writing this down, and feeling really thankful that old-fashioned value of neighbors-helping-neighbors is alive and well just around the corner here in Bastrop, Texas.