Dirt Water

Somehow, Mom had missed all of the numerous news reports about the landslides on Whidbey Island that destroyed or damaged many homes and businesses.  She heard about it from a friend, Marie, who had called to wish her a happy Easter.  Mom and her ex-husband, John the Nazi, met Marie and her now deceased husband Martin a couple of decades ago on Whidbey.  The two couples used to vacation along the cool Washington coast on Whidbey Island during July and August every year – Mom and John to escape the scorching Arizona triple-digit temperatures; Marie and Martin to escape the oppressive heat and humidity of Virginia summers.

After she hung up, Mom summoned me to the living room from the Arizona room where I was happily reading another Jack Reacher novel on my Kindle.

“Patty!” she hollered as she fumbled around, trying unsuccessfully to put the phone back into its cradle.

I wandered into the room and picked up the handset from the end table.  “What?” I asked as I placed it into the charging unit.

“Did you hear about Whidbey Island?”

“Do you mean the landslides and the homes that have been destroyed?”

“Yes,” she said, nodding.  “And businesses too.  I can’t believe I haven’t heard anything about it.  You know, John and I went there every summer.”

“Yes, Mom, I know,” I said.  “I don’t know why you haven’t heard anything either.  It’s been all over the news for 3 or 4 days.  Landslides are taking out houses and drastically shrinking the size of lots.”

“You know it’s an island.  There’s the beaches down here near the water and then there’s higher ground up here by the cliffs,” she explained, using hand gestures to indicated elevation.  “And it’s surrounded by the ocean.”

“I kind of figured since it’s named Whidbey Island it was probably an actual island,” I replied drily.

“Well I’ll bet it’s happening because of the dirt water,” she said with a knowing nod.  “Just like that house in Florida where the bedroom got swallowed up.  That was from dirt water too.”

“Ground water, Mom, not dirt water,” I corrected her as I turned to rejoin Jack Reacher in his latest adventure in the great state of Texas.  “And it’s happening because of landslides not sinkholes.”

“Maybe,” I heard her mutter.  “Or maybe it’s just from the dirt water.  You never know.”

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