California is on fire again. The bucket brigades from Nebraska, Missouri, South Dakota, Iowa, and Kansas haven’t connected yet. This could perhaps not be a joke if commemorative t-shirts are exchanged for water-filled buckets, e.g. Hands Across America. If you are too old/too young/a country music devotee you may not be familiar with the Sunday, May 25, 1986, event in which approximately 6.5 million people held hands for fifteen minutes in an attempt to form a continuous human chain across the contiguous United States. There were big hand-holding vacuums in the arid Southwest, but Hands Across America did happen. There was a commemorative ear-worm song that still floats around the airwaves and you could buy a t-shirt to hold your place in line. My t-shirt stood on SR 51 outside of Toledo. My Steven was too cool for a t-shirt but he stood in line to hear the house bands that rocked East Toledo that day.

Hands Across America 2019 would include options to hold a virtual hand via Facebook, one that would allow you to “wave” at people in Long Beach, California (the end of the line.) We can no longer “poke” our virtual friends; just “wave” at them. Virtual poking was too aggressive and open to tort action.

My friend Dawn and I roughed it at the Kelley’s Island Campground during a recent conference. Lake Erie levels are so high that we took off our shoes and waded through foot-sinking muddy nature preserve trails to the shores, sandy stretches that were narrow and mounded from the abundant winter lake ice. Our cell phone services were spotty so the only thing we could do during meeting breaks was play like we did when the neighbor ladies kicked us off the party line that served our one-line-road community.

Years before the Missus’ booted us whippersnappers off the phone, I trundled downstairs, half in a dream. A house fire burned across the wide stretch of the Maumee River. I feared that the fire would jump to the north bank on which we lived. Mom soothed my nightmares with a glass of water. This week we celebrate firefighters who keep safe the places and people we love. I hope there is always (just enough) water where and when they need it.