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February 11, 2014

Thanks to the Scout Next Door

Harry M. Covert

The recent ice storm was an attention getter first-class. And, for a lot of families and homes in Frederick County. It did serve to get our minds off various foibles like how terrorists were going to disrupt the Olympics, candidates for the new county executive and county council or the future of Vice President Joe Biden.


Broadcast weather people, not faux meteorologists, were perfect in prognostications, giving advance warning that the ice would stick to the trees and cause some anxiety.


First serious matter of the morning involved the crash of two big trees. They sounded like exploding bombs. Second was the collapse of another pine that ripped out the cable line. Third, with power off, and only a radio on the iPhone, the major problem was how to make coffee without electricity.


On the latter, the next door neighbor had already pulled out his Coleman stove and percolator. This was a gentlemanly and scoutly thing to do. The gigantic tree aimed its landing on his car, smashing out the passenger side windows in addition to damaging things under the hood.


Throughout the rest of the day power saws were out en masse. We were not alone, of course. In our neighborhood, the power company wasn't derelict in its duty. While some 32,000 homes were without juice, our blinking clocks and lights began in just a few short couple of hours.


Of course, how could we get the cable back in order to watch news of surrounding communities? Just before eight o'clock, a call to the cable company was made. No kidding, the waiting period was less that 10 seconds. In moments I explained the ripped-out cable, stripped from the house.


In less than two hours, the cable repair man, obviously an expert, arrived, returned the Internet to good working order and service to all our teevees were in business. We were back to commercials for fixing leg veins; how to lose five pounds in a week; and sports news of the latest athlete leaving the closet. College basketball was on the screen, too.


Thankfully, waiting for Mr. Coffee to do his job, I was trying to decide if I should again read John Ashbury's latest scribbling, "Frederick County Characters" or jump on the "Wilson" bio or Robert Gates' "Duty." By the way, Woodrow Wilson is the last president to write his own speeches. Dr. Gates did most of his and it's a good one, too.


Temptation infected our house. The heating system warmed up quickly. From Ashbury to Wilson to Gates. Now that's a conglomeration. Mr. Ashbury came out second but barely since the neighbor (my younger brother Norm) is a true devotee of Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the scouting founder in 1907.


Norm can start a fire without a match. He can throw a hatchet perfectly, too. He's good in the kitchen or on a campfire.


I'm nominating Norm for an honorary Eagle Scout rank. He knows more about scouting on all levels than anyone I know. Yesterday (Monday), he celebrated another birthday. On ice day he was at his best, never hesitated and kept the coffee coming.


I might add that tree damage to his car was heavy. He didn't deserve that. He has taken the Boy Scout words to heart, always prepared for any emergency. He is without guile. The massive tree just happened to fall on his side of the driveway.


The past few days the neighborhood has been flooded with tree doctors. We found our regular tree surgeons at the ready and the power tools have been almost non-stop in front and back yards.


Clean up has been rapid and appreciated. It's now back to "solving" some of the issues facing everybody in Frederick City and Frederick County. No tree planting on the schedule.


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