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The Bucket Brigade

According to my dictionary, the definition for Bucket Brigade is:

-A line of persons formed to extinguish a fire by passing on buckets of water quickly from a distant source

– Any group of persons who cooperate to help cope with an emergency

Portland, OR has been hit with snow, ice and very cold temperatures. Mother Nature seems to be having so much fun she hasn’t put an end date on the bitter cold weather. The icy roads have left me, and many of my neighbors, stranded up here on our hill. Those lucky enough to own chains have been able to creep down the roads and make it into town. The rest of us aren’t so lucky.

I am stuck on a dead-end road in the woods, which has made it impossible for me to fill the holiday orders for the animal lovers who purchase my books. The mail truck hasn’t made it up our hill all week. Needless to say, I’ve been feeling very alone.

I’m not very good at asking for help, unless it’s a real emergency. This will come as a surprise to a few of my neighbors, who seem to always be helping me with one thing or another (Paula & Don – you know who I’m talking about!) But I sent out an email to my neighborhood watch group to see if anyone could help me get my packages out.

That’s when I realized how NOT ALONE I was! Several neighbors offered to help in any way that they could…and we put together a plan.

I trudged down the icy hill in my clogs (I keep meaning to get boots) carrying my bag of parcels and using my walking stick. The first neighbors took me to the post office and to the market for supplies. That’s where I ran into the second neighbors, who took me into their truck for the ride back up the hill. OK – I took one look at that icy hill and I bailed…but their intentions were good!

It was then that I thought of the bucket brigade. At first I thought I was the only recipient of all the kindness that was flowing around me.

But then I remembered that I have been on outside critter patrol this week, for when the cold weather arrives there are many things that have to be done. The hummingbird food has to be defrosted and replaced every two hours. The bird suet has to be broken into pieces the birdies can eat – the large blocks freeze. The seed has to be replenished often, for falling snow quickly covers it.

And then there is Sammy. He is the outdoor cat I’ve been feeding for 5 ½ years, since he showed up as a kitten in my yard. Were it not for my four inside kitties Sammy would have come into my home a long time ago.

Sammy gets top notch food that I buy from the veterinarian. When I look out and see him waiting in the little “house” we built for him my heart is full of love that is hard to put into words. He trusts me, and knows he can rely on me to take care of him. However, I get so much joy out of watching over him I’m sure I am getting the better part of the bargain.

Sammy is part of the Bucket Brigade. Only a few people in the neighborhood know about him, but those neighbors who have helped me, and are watching out for me, are therefore watching over Sammy, too…once removed.

I am filled with gratitude for being blessed with such great neighbors. If any of you are feeling alone, or stranded, as I was feeling, look around for your own bucket brigade. There may very well be a group of friends, or neighbors, waiting to tuck you securely into a safety net you didn’t even know was there.

That’s what I discovered…right in my own backyard!



Vicki Tankersley
posted on December 19, 2008 Reply

Since I live in Portland, too, I can attest to the treacherous roads and the wintery blast of weather we have been having to endure for days on end. That is really great, Christine, that your neighbors came to your aid. That’s why I like living here; people are so nice. Merry Christmas! Vicki T.

Chris Davis
posted on December 19, 2008 Reply

Vicky, you are SO right – Oregonians are wonderful!

Happy Holidays!
Chris Davis

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