White Car, Wind and Rain
Random’s white Subaru crept along through traffic as the rain began with big, splats every now and then on his windshield.
Finally he was able to get off the freeway at Saratoga-Sunnyvale road and head south toward highway 9. There were a few signals on the 5 mile stretch but he miraculously made them all when he got to the highway the rain let loose and hammered the car his wipers could hardly keep the windshield clear. He had to go slower than he wanted to. It was almost 3:30 and he was still at least 30 minutes from the Ranch. Giant whips of lightening lashed the now galloping clouds north. And the wind picked up, driving sheets of water across the car. He pushed the speed a little but had to slow down for the windy parts. Random cursed and pleaded with the weather which took no notice of the small white car winding its way up the ridge.
Emmylou came out on the porch and waved to occupants of the car. She was surprised at the sight of the Porsche. Random and Essie must be doing pretty well for themselves she thought. Then she saw the driver get out and knew it wasn’t Essie and then the cowgirl princess in the long gray overcoat and she thought. Who are these people and then Essie came clambering out of the back. It’s like a clown car, she thought. No, that’s it. Only three. Essie overtook the others on her way to the porch and stretched out her hand as she came up the steps.
“Hello, Emmylou, my name ees Esmeralda Estrella-Flores.”
“Nice to meet you. You picked a heckuva day to visit looks pretty biblical out there.”
“Oh, dat ees a good way to describe eet. Beebleecal, yes. Dees ees my photographer Maddie and my friend Jered who was nice enough to geev us a ride.”
“Pleased to meet you all. Shall we go in and talk over some tea or coffee? Have you eaten’?”
“Sounds good, Jered and I have, I can’t speak for Maddie.”
“Oh, I’m jus’ fine thank you, but tea sounds nice, Oh I left the camera in the car. I’ll jus’ go get it.”
“Its not locked. The camera’s on the floor in the back.”
Emmlou eyed Maddie suspiciously as she ran down the steps.
“Isn’t she a little young for a photographer.”
“She ees een our apprenticeship program for high school students,” Essie covered quickly, “and actually she’s bery good. She could probably get a job except for child labor laws and a leetle more maturity wouldn’t hurt. But what are ya gonna do, she’s 15”
Emmylou smiled thoughtfully.
“Yeah, I’ve got an 18 year old with some of the same issues. Sounds like a pretty cool opportunity for high school.”
“She gets credit for all her published work and a letter of recommendation as well as a certificate of training.”
Jered couldn’t help but wince a little at how Essie was piling it on.
Maddie came back with the camera and they all settled at the kitchen table. Essie pulled out a note pad. And a pen and wrote a few notes.
”I don’t think we will be able to do much of a tour of the ranch in this weather but I can show you my creamery and barn and the goat pen, I’ve got to get all the animals in any way as it is.”
Essie asked her a few questions about her animals and her operation and how long she had been running the place. She wrote notes.
“haf you encountered any interesting wildlife on de ranch. Eet seems like a pretty wild place here abouts.”
“Well a coupla years ago we had a mountain lion prowling around actually got one of the lambs and dragged it off. And every so often feral dogs come rummaging through. The other night though I was sure I saw a wolf on the ridge, but I know that isn’t possible.”
“mebbe a Coyote?”
“No it was too big. Coulda been a feral dog, but it was quiet and shy. The feral dogs are always blundering about. Oh yeah every now and then we get a one of the little black bears foraging in the garbage and raccoons are always around as well as the coyotes and possums, but you never see those only catch little glimpses out of the corner of your eye.”
“Doesn’t it make you nervous all alone most of the day.”
“Oh I’m not alone. I’ve got my boarders around most days and my son visits most weekends. “
“You run the farm all by yourself?”
“Oh, heavens no, I hire help to put in the garden and my boarders help with the big work. I just do the day-to-day stuff and I usually don’t mind so much doin’ it on my own. I was thinking of adding bees and ostriches next year. I hear they would do well here, and I could sell the eggs and feathers as well as the honey from the bees that is.”
When the rain let up a little, they walked out past the sodden garden to the goat barn.
The Earth Moves
As Random pulled onto the dirt road at about 4, the rain let up and wind died down a bit. Suddenly his car lost control. He had both hands on the steering wheel but the road jumped and shuddered and jostled the car until it slid off the road into the ditch and landed in about 2 feet of water flowing in the bottom.
“What the hell?” he said out loud.
* * *
On their way to the goat barn, the earth gave a huge lurch and all the members of the farm tour tumbled to the ground.
“Woah, What in world?”
“Was that and earthquake?” Essie remembered the huge earthquake a few years ago. She had been on her bed and was bounced off and had to stagger over to catch the TV before it wobbled onto the floor. This was more of jolt and less of a quake.
Emmylou looked back to see that her house was still standing.
Larry came running down the path from the dorm.
“Is everyone alright? That was a real bone rattler,” he said as he approached the group.
“Is everything OK up there, Larry?” Emmy asked.
“Yeah it tossed everything around a bit and broke a few plates, but no major damage.
“What about the house?” Larry looked nervously across the garden at the old farmhouse.
“Well we best go find out, hadn’t we?” Emmylou said.