Yesterday we visited the family homestead, an acre of land off Deer Run Road in Franklin. The sheep across the way greeted us with an air of skepticism. Someday the barn across the street will completely collapse, and when it does I will be a bit sadder. My digital videos merely suggest the sunny, verdant splendor of the place.
The news reports became constant on the radio shortly after we shot our beautiful videos: Hurricane Isabel is coming, get what you need, prepare for the coming storm. We bought boxes of pasta and protein bars at the Valu Rite and headed back to the Candlelight Inn.
I called my mother. She said, “I received a call from your brother earlier today. He’s a bit scared about driving his motorcycle in the rain, so I think he’s decided not to come to Franklin this year.”
I said, “What about my cousins?”
She said, “Well, Amtrak has cancelled its trains due to the storm, so they won’t be able to join you this year either.”
I called my father. He said, “The television is showing pictures of people and cars getting washed away in North Carolina. I think we’ll have to skip the family reunion this year.”
It’s just after midnight in Franklin, West Virginia. The wind is moderate, around twenty miles per hour, but the rain is unceasing, sheets and sheets of thick walls of water slapping against the gabled roof of this place. Tropical Storm Isabel has thrown four inches of rain at our Victorian bed-and-breakfast in the past four hours, with four more inches to come before sunrise. Our 1908 house is safely ensconced on a hill, and the house’s drainage system is working correctly, but Main Street has turned into a small and fast river before us, probably impassable by anything but a 4×4 truck.
The eye of the tropical storm will pass over me within the hour. I expect there will be a quietness in the air at that time, as I become the president pro tempore and sole attendee of this year’s Byrd family reunion.