Tuesday, May 16, 2006

When Coincidence is Real

Yesterday, I had the experience of living through something I would never have believed if I read it in a book or saw it in a movie.

I met my friend Denise around 10 a.m. for brunch and mutual errand-running. I left my truck at her place and she drove. We enjoyed a leisurely meal, and contemplated having an extra cup of tea, but decided against it. We went to Family Farm & Fleet where we got a pallet of bedding. We stopped by Goodwill and dropped off 6 bags of clothes. We went to the bank.

Denise mentioned she was looking for a smaller, square or rectangular outside garbage can to keep goat feed in. We went to Wal-Mart, but the ones they had were all far too large for what she wanted. We bought a booster seat for the various toddlers who will be riding in vehicles with her this summer.

Cassandra fell asleep in the back seat on the way home. I told Denise that I had two garbage cans / feed bins she could choose from. So, we went to our farm, unloaded my bedding, and measured my garbage can offerings. Too big.

We went back to Denise's place so I could get my truck. Cassandra was still zonked out, so we let her sleep a bit. Denise took me to the goat shed and showed me her current garbage can / feed bin set-up. We took more measurements. She said that she had a garbage can of the right dimensions in the big barn, so we opened the barn doors and showed me what she was talking about. Then...

"Something smells hot," she said.

She followed her nose to the corner of the barn and discovered that the stall containing her son's white Fair turkeys was on fire! The stall was closed up tightly to keep out drafts. A rod holding two heat lamps in the stall had fallen, somehow. One lightbulb had exploded everywhere. The other heat lamp had overheated and torched the pine shavings. Several lines of flames were dancing across the floor.

Denise turned off the power to the barn. We ripped open the outside barn door, tore down the tarp that was holding drafts out, and headed in with a hose. The fire had already reached an outside barn wall. The wall was scorched and charred, but hadn't yet ignited.

We figure that the fire only needed 2 or 3 more minutes to have been more than we could put out on our own.

One extra cup of tea... One more bathroom break... One more errand to run... One more red light on the way home.

Had Cassandra not been asleep, I probably would have put her in our car and left as soon as we got back to Denise's farm. In any case, without the recurring motif of a search for a garbage can, we would never have opened the barn door. The barn was shut up tightly -- there was no reason for anyone to go in there for hours...

So many coincidences came together for us to be in the right place at the right time. Like I said, if I'd read it or seen it onscreen, I'd have never bought it. "Too contrived," I'd have said.

Coincidence ruins art. But it's what saved a hundred year old barn yesterday.