An interesting notice was waiting for us when we arrived home on Saturday. Just hanging there, rather inconspicuously on the door handle. I thought at first it was somebody who wanted to mow the grass or sell us Avon or something. But no. Nothing so wonderful as that. This was a cleanup notice about a toxic chemical spill in our back yard. OK, wait a minute. We were gone not even a week and come back to a toxic spill? What?
Apparently, while we were gone the transformer on the pole behind our house (the same pole that was just replaced not too long ago) exploded and sent a rain of toxic goop cascading down upon the corner of our yard right where the satsuma tree is located. The notice warned us to steer clear of any areas where we notice oil or any areas marked off with yellow caution tape. We didn’t have any tape, so I went out to investigate and look for signs of oil. Sure enough, we had a brand new transformer on the pole. Looked about twice as big as the former one. I did see some greasy stuff on the ground and on the branches of the satsuma tree, so all we could do was wait until the next morning for them to come do whatever their job was.
Sure enough, the doorbell rang as I was getting ready to leave for church. The Centerpoint Energy hazmat team had arrived to rescue us from … whatever the oil was. They donned actual hazmat suits (well, those white slip-on things with footies and head coverings). They dug out two inches of soil (right over where we have our unmarked dog graveyard. I told Chris at one point, “They’re digging up the dogs.” She didn’t think it was all that funny. Fortunately they were buried deep enough to avoid discovery). They also trimmed off half of the tree to get at the offending substance. And they ran soil samples down to four inches. Gotta be sure. They assured us they would replace the soil and grass and even the tree if we wanted them to, but “it wouldn’t be as big as this one.” I don’t imagine so. It wouldn’t have as many satsumas already growing on it, either.
Later that afternoon we asked Nathan what was the real danger there. If we ate the satsumas, would we turn into radioactive beasts? Would we get as yet unknown super powers? He assured us that the stuff was just mineral oil, and wouldn’t hurt us at all. It was used to prevent the transformer from getting super-hot and spewing the horrible, unspeakable nastiness everywhere. At worst, if we drank a gallon of it straight we would probably have diarrhea for a week or so. Otherwise, it’s just greasy.
Well, that was a relief. When we returned from church I went out to check on the damage. Sure enough, there was some new topsoil. No new grass yet. And the back half of the tree had been pruned pretty severely. I think we’ll take our chances with the tree and keep the one we have. I’ll sure take the grass, though.
Romans 8:1-2 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”
Father, thank you for unseen things like that mineral oil that do its job to protect us every day. Kind of like you holding things together in the universe. Amen.