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Thunderstorms And Wayward Chickens
Marg-Ins 8-4-21

It was almost surreal. My sister-in-law rolled to the blinking red, four-way stop signal at the top of the rise heading toward my hometown and stopped.

Stopped the car. Just like all the other folks in their vehicles did. On all four sides, traffic was at a standstill and everyone waited; no one in any particular hurry, no one barely touching the brakes as they slid on through.

That was my first indication I wasn’t in California anymore.

The aptly named ‘California stop’ has become even less of a ‘stop’ post-pandemic lockdown, as everyone seems to have forgotten how to drive as a result of the long time stuck at home. But on vacation? I was amazed at the fact every vehicle stopped and drivers were actually courteous to each other. We could take a lesson from those upstate NY drivers.

Another road adventure on vacation, we were coming back from visiting the Bass Pro Shops in Utica, where my brother is the resident ‘pro’ and were almost home. On a sweeping curve, the traffic ahead of us had slowed to a crawl and then stopped, brake lights in evidence, and we followed suit. There didn’t seem to be any reason for the hold up until, looking a little further down the road on the other side, a man had stopped his car in the roadway, gotten out, and was shooing an escaped chicken off the two-lane road and back to its pen. Honestly, I took a photo of it. Traffic stopped in both directions to help a chicken get across the road. Most people would just consider it a survival of the fittest situation but one driver took it upon himself to help the chicken get through the day safely and, to their credit, everyone stopped and let him carry out his good deed. No honking horns, no dangerous ‘I will pass you on the shoulder’ moves. Maybe it was because it’s summer and people aren’t as crunched for time or maybe it’s because the attitude in rural upstate is different than the get-there-as-fast-as-you-can Central Valley but I took both comfort and pride in those small acts of decency along the highway.

And talk about rain; I mentioned before leaving I would love a good thunderstorm and some rainy weather. Well, wish granted.

There was rain the first few days, plus a good rumbling light-up-the-night thunderstorm one evening; we picked up an inch and a quarter of rain in that one storm alone. I was loving the green grass, the lush trees, the puddles – everyone else was just tired of them.

It was actually a vacation a day delayed; as luck would have it, I was still up working at about 1:30 a.m. on July 15; the day I was supposed to be leaving, when I got a text from my airline that the flight had been cancelled. What?! The text told me to ‘click here’ to re-book. Since I am still really a novice with a smart phone I wasn’t sure I could do that but was trying my best and was looking at whatever might be available when the airline texted back to let me know they had booked me on a Friday, July 16 flight. It was a later leaving time than my original and I didn’t land until just after midnight on Saturday, July 17 so I lost a day-plus of actual vacation but at least I got there.

Overall it was a great trip; reconnecting with friends and family, crossing off items on the ‘to do’ list like hiking Vroman’s Nose (although it was pretty wet and muddy) and having the chance to bake up a couple batches of homemade cookies to leave with my dad. It was also a much needed rest, a decidedly slower pace and a refreshing change from my normal ‘hurry up’ mindset.

Just in time, too; an opportunity to recharge the batteries and get ready for the flurry of fall sports and activities that are quickly approaching.


Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.