Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Flood of '08

The Flood of ‘08, as they’re calling it, is slowly receding. I am proud to say I was not one of the gawkers. The downtown was briefly evacuated. You watch with horrified fascination on TV as the water gushes up to the roofs. The local channels covered it 24/7 and it has been the lead story on the national news (is that a matter of prurient pride? Yeah, I survived the flood of “08). But it’s not over for many people. The rivers aren’t supposed to crest till later in the week in other midwestern towns. Footage on TV: people crying, women with kerchiefed heads because they couldn't wash their hair, people staying in gyms across the state, saying their dream was gone. The national guard and hundreds of residents have helped with sandbagging. It will cost billions of dollars to repair the damage.

Meanwhile, I’ve been reading MISS MOLE, a 1930 novel by E. H. Young, spinster lit. (This, however, is not proving to be a soothing Barbara Pymish novel. ) Hannah Mole may be the most unlikable spinster in history: having worked for 20 years at typical spinster jobs, companion, housekeeper, governess, she is fed up. When she tires of sycophancy as a companion to an old lady, she walks out and decides she will have a new adventure. Through a cousin's conniving, Miss Mole, the least demure spinster in fiction, become a vicar's housekeeper. She enjoys her self-effacing role while plotting Machiavellian strategies to win over his nephew and two daughters and to rebel against his tyranny. Hannah refuses to be bored by her life. She rearranges everything in her mind and tells witty stories to her employers.

But some kind of clash is coming.

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