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Hudson's Corner: Derecho serves as metaphor for some sudden, devastating events of summer

By Kathy Hudson

9:27 AM EDT, September 4, 2012

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Summers seem to whiz by faster every year. In many ways, this summer was defined by the late June derecho. Some area homeowners and Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. are still trying to sort out the damage, repair homes and gardens, and make things more storm-proof. Not a bad idea with the hurricane season upon us.

The derecho seems also to have been a metaphor for some sudden and devastating events that befell friends this summer. One lost his brother to a random murder by a mentally ill man in Beijing. Another, whose husband died four years ago, lost her 35-year old son in a hiking accident. Another friend's daughter had 14-hour brain surgery two weeks before her brother-in-law died on a golf course in Colorado. An elderly woman, who had helped raise a friend's children, lost her own son to murder in west Baltimore. Not exactly the lazy, hazy days of summer.

Tragedies in summer, like those at the holidays, seem amplified by the surrounding time of good cheer and the upbeat quality of longer days. According to story books, bad things are not supposed to happen to good people, especially during summer vacation and holidays. As life passes, the realization emerges that life is life 24/7, regardless of the season. Bad things happen to good people.

Inconveniences and irritations are also daily occurrences and part of the fabric of life. Some are not so bad, just momentary interruptions.

A deer walked down our driveway, near Cold Spring Lane in Roland Park, and munched on our hostas hours before I was supposed to fly off on vacation. I rushed out into Baltimore County, because no nearby hardware store stocked deer fencing. I sprayed the worst-smelling natural deer spray on everything. My husband reported while I was away that the birds then disappeared.

A few weeks later, a scientific study showed that birds DO have a sense of smell, even if the deer returned in spite of the stink for more hostas.

Elderly friends ended up stuck on the BWI runway for more than two hours. Apparently, the plane was overweight; all of the people from the stand-by list had to disembark before the flight could take off. America is growing heavier. No doubt about it. Sitting in airports or at the beach is a sure way to see that up close and too personally. Fewer Americans seem to be of average size and weight, but I had never before heard of a flight eliminating passengers because of weight.

Baltimore's aging infrastructure caused plenty of problems this summer: water main leaks and sink holes. As my husband was showing a client a painting, which had taken five months to paint, city sewage backed up in the basement. Thanks to the efforts of Robert Ginyard, an aide to Baltimore City Councilwoman Sharon Green Middleton, the line was cleared of tree roots and the problem was fixed the same day. Many were not so lucky.

That was a bright spot of summer. So was the quick response of vigilant neighbors when we were away from home and our security system went off. One neighbor immediately called police. Another neighbor, whom our security system calls during an alarm event, was on hand immediately. He later reported the police response was fast.

Fast response had also occurred several weekends before, during a rash of brazen bike thefts in Roland Park. Bikes had been stolen from porches while the family and their dogs were right inside — and were even stolen right out from underneath one child. Eight cars came to our street the day our neighbor's garage door was kicked in.

Still, at summer's end, what we remember most are quiet and fun times with friends and family, play times and story times, swimming, hiking and paddling — maxing out good days together.