Doherty: First Days

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(HOST) Commentator April Doherty is a former science teacher who lives
in Hartland, not far from Quechee and other Vermont towns that were
hammered by Tropical Storm Irene. She says many of her friends and
neighbors are still waiting for the first day of a return to normal

(DOHERTY) People are
working toward the first day, and they’re not sure when it’s coming.
They’re working toward real first day, not the first day during the
recovery or the first day after the flood. Not the day they started
digging mud out of the house, the day they had to kayak into town, or
the day that everything they owned was heaved into a dump truck and
hauled away. Those are more like last days, or days after.

days so far included the one after we buried our neighbor’s horses and
chickens. The first day the kids went back to school, even though the
water had to be trucked in and there were porta-potties in the parking
lot. The first day the FEMA guys showed up. But in truth, these seem
more like the last days of our lives before Irene, the lost days since

People dream of the first day they can be back in their
homes with floors and walls and appliances and furniture and clothes,
when they can take familiar roads to and from work, driving the closest
thing to a straight line from here to there. They work toward the day
when they can greet as friends those who were strangers before they
brought food and shovels to help excavate their old lives. They look
forward to a normal first day – a routine day in every day life.

days, a woman who lost her house and the ground it sat on brings water
to those without. These days, my neighbor who lost the stonewall he
spent the summer building by hand is glad the brook left him his
woodpile. These days, those of us who were safe, like me, who did no
more than listen to the thunder of pounding rocks hurtling down the
falls and shaking the house, have much to do. These days, we still have
potato salad to make and deliver, and mittens and socks to knit for
those who have nothing warm left for the upcoming winter. Tomorrow , we
need to plan for the changes to make us safer and less vulnerable to
powers beyond our control.

I’m looking forward to the first night
I can sleep through till morning even though it’s raining, the first
day I can again drive through the Quechee Covered Bridge, and the first
day friends are in their homes, wherever their new homes may be, whether
back on the flood plains or on higher ground, and we have the first
post-Irene barbeque and badminton game.

I’ll be happy when we no
longer think of firsts, but instead, just another: just another drive
to Killington, just another hair cut in Brattleboro, just another home
game on the home field.

And I want to remember this: I want to
approach these just another days with the greater appreciation of all
the first days from this day forward.

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