Finding Jesus in the Driveway

The headline is better than the story.

Let me start with this: I was pressure washing a house, and more pointedly, its steep metal roof, out here in the country, under trees that had dropped leaves for too many seasons, with mildew that had grown ever thicker. I tried to switch the nozzle on the gun from the yellow to the red one, a tip that had lost its distinguishing plastic ‘wings,’ and had become pretty much a piece of metal. Brass, copper, I wouldn’t know.

As can occasionally happen, I didn’t get the nozzle seated properly, pulled the trigger, and, bloop, the nozzle went somewhere into the leaves I had already washed off the roof. Gone. Gone forever; even though I crawled among and pushed around the leaves to reveal the much needed tip.

I had decided to do what I could with the equipment on hand. I had abandoned all hope of finding the tip when my friend, Stephen R. Davis, coming down the garden path to help me out, and totally unaware of the situation, leaned down, picked something up, and said, “Hey, Erwin; do you need… this?”

I did.

So, what I had was a little metal dashboard version of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro that had, with me transferring it from my surf rig to my work rig, lost its glue, its ability to stick to the dash. Mostly I kept it in the ashtrays, mostly standing, facing forward. Yeah; I know. Take a breath, Christians.

Somewhere during one of the transfers, Jesus was lost.

Forty days, not sure. I did miss seeing the little metal (pewter, pop metal, not sure; not gold or silver, for sure) charm (if you will, statuette if you won’t) Seeing Jesus watching the road always got me feeling a bit more secure. Bear in mind that surfers have long (longer than I’ve been surfing) embraced and included Saint Christopher, patron saint of travelers (including motorists) as part of the crew. Travelers, seekers of waves and, you know, all the mystical and mysterious stuff that goes along with surfing. I do have a St. Christopher medallion in the corner of the van’s dashboard.

In addition to needing to count on the services of a no-doubt exhausted, most-likely embarrassed Guardian Angel, I also, way too frequently, have needed and continue to need some intervention on the road, divine or otherwise.

mysterious if not mystical

Now I have to recount the latest example: I need my six foot ladder to tie down if not load my longer extension ladders on my big boy van. On July 5th I finished one job, arrived at another, untied the smaller set (24 and 20 foot) of ladders, used the six footer to do some scraping. My plan was to remove the ladders and leave them on site.

Although I told myself I would remember, I, yes, drove off with the potentially deadly projectiles… untied. Not only that, I drove from Port Townsend to Port Gamble (the long line of cars backed up almost to the Beaver Valley Road and moving at five miles an hour to get off the Olympic Peninsula and across the Hood Canal Bridge might have been a good thing), hung out with our daughter, Dru, then, with Trish inside the van for the first time in a long time (another car story there), we headed back.

“What’s that noise?” Trish actually asked. “Oh, I probably pushed the big ladders (28 and 32 foot) too far forward. Annoying, huh?”

Note I still didn’t remember that I hadn’t removed or tied the other set of ladders to the rack.

I did remember, on Surf Route 101, half a mile or less from our driveway, when both ladders slipped (or flew, depending on which of us is telling the story), clanged and banged onto the fortunately empty road. As luck (or fate- again according to who is talking) would have it, this guy who, ironically, I had spoken to on the phone earlier this very day, and his son were out in their yard at dusk. They ran across the highway (more like a road in Quilcene), grabbed the ladders, pulled them off the pavement.

You might guess I was in a bit of trouble with Trish. Yeah, that’s like the hundred dollar Jeopardy clue; but yeah.

When she, through some sort of cosmic knowledge, seems to call me when I’m just loading up to come home, Trish now goes through a checklist with me. Ladders? Yeah. You sure? Um… I’ll check.

It’s July the tenth as I write this, trying to put off going to pressure wash a house on Marrowstone Island. On July the eighth, swapping out stuff from one job, pulling out my Hobie because there’s just no forecast of waves on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, leaving the wetsuit stuff in, just in case (I might be able to borrow a board, wetsuit- no), I just happened to see something in the driveway.

None the worse for wear, Jesus is currently, um… I better check.

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