Visit from grandkids yields unpredictability

The four g-kids visited Camp Gra-Ma-Pa for a few days recently, a last grasp for fun and frolic before back-to-school time. Lots of energy; lots of activities. I am reminded of the line from the Nirvana song: “Here we are now/Entertain us.”

Grandma and I are ready for sleep in the evening when even one g-kid visits, but four? Well, I am nearly narcoleptic by the end of the day. I look forward to these memory-making visits, but — as most grandparents will tell you — having an end in sight is a wonderful perk of the grandparent experience. The plan was for mom and dad to pick them up sometime Saturday afternoon. Plans? Ha!

Saturday we woke to no electricity. That’s not unusual here in the country and doesn’t usually last long, so we waited. The four g-kids eventually needed breakfast, however, so Plan B was to indulge them and pile into the van for a rare visit to Micky D’s.

We were just out of the driveway when we learned the reason for the electrical outage: a very large oak tree had fallen across the road pulling down power lines and snapping two large wooden utility poles.

Living on a dead end road has its advantages, but an alternate route is not one of them — there is no Plan B. A few neighbors were surveying the damage. Considering the solution would involve Duke Energy, REMC and the County Highway Department, it was clear the repair would most likely take a while.

Back home, Becky made a food plan then opened and closed the fridge quickly. It would be cold cereal for the g-kids. I fired up the gas grill — to survive, coffee would be vital. The new plan was for a primitive camping adventure.

After breakfast we went off to explore the woods and to “creek stomp.” Some stayed at the house to read books and draw. And as always they were constantly chattering and yelling away. It is their default setting.

After lunch we walked to the pond. The temperature was on our side: quite warm but not oppressively hot and sticky. We swam, kayaked and canoed.

Periodically one or more of us would check on the fallen oak situation. At least a few neighbors, almost all males, were there watching the workers each time we showed up. Not to stereotype, but If there is a project involving big machines and power tools, you can bet there will be guys standing around watching.

Normally the evening plan would involve bubble baths, but we had no electricity to pump the water into the house, so once again it was Plan B. The pond swim would have to substitute. Throughout the day bottled water had been carefully rationed as if we were stranded on an island. And in a way we were.

By dusk the chain saws were silent, but the road was still impassible, blocked by the line of massive trucks replacing the broken poles and reattaching the wires. We had been in contact with mom and dad. They waited around for our all-clear call but finally decided to drive down from Indy.

They parked and walked toward us past the trucks and men working on the repairs while we came from the other side to meet them. I’m sure it is because of when I grew up, but I was picturing those 1960s prisoner swaps on that bridge crossing from East to West Berlin.

A worker told dad they would be re-arranging some trucks in a few minutes, and he would have a short window to drive out. Soon we were across no-man’s land. The original plan was a nice meal of food from the garden, but we scraped that for dinner at a local restaurant. Both mom and dad commented separately how quiet things had seemed while they were home alone. Ah, blessed quiet.

It’s clear this adventure will be one of those stories that will enter our family lore. It was unplanned, but that’s part of the story and part of the lesson. As the saying goes: man plans, God laughs.