Day 10 of the Worst Heat Wave On Record - And Still No Power!

The visual artists rise early so they can work in their studios until the heat accumulates to blistering levels. When it is finally unbearable, they seek cool havens. In the early days, the Ascension Episcopal Parish Hall was the only oasis. Then the Amherst Public Library opened with ac and wi-fi, then the Sweet Briar computer labs got power. Fellows saw the utility work crews—but still no respite for VCCA.

By dinnertime—the Fellows' Residence is searingly hot. At night, some Fellows sleep on wet towels or stretch out on the concrete floors of their studios. They laugh about having to wear sweaters if the temperature ever drops to the 80s again.

And during all of it, they're writing, painting, composing—sometimes incorporating the derecho into their work. Indeed, they've been so determined to maintain their discipline that they turned down an offer to sleep cool at Sweet Briar College.

Late Thursday night, Sheila and Craig Pleasants finally got power at their own house, and invited the VCCA kitchen staff to come over and cook there—away from the sweltering kitchen they'd been slaving in three times a day for seven days. This way Fellows could come over and dine in luxurious air conditioning.

Sarah, Jenny and Gwen chose to keep cooking at VCCA—because the commercial stove is considerably larger and all the supplies are on hand—but a plan was hatched. When dinner was ready, it was trucked over to the Pleasants' house. The Fellows carpooled to follow Craig over and, for the first time in six days, the Fellows enjoyed dinner in a room that was less than 100°. But no one wore a sweater.

Dinner at the Pleasants' oasis has been the routine ever since. On Saturday night, they had a reading where Aaron Baker read his new poem about the derecho.
Above photo: after dinner at the home of Sheila and Craig Pleasants. Left to right beginning with the front row: Jacob Greenberg (in purple shirt). Second Row: Nicole Parcher, Katy Didden, Scott Gendel, JoAnn Balingit and Sheila Gulley Pleasants holding Scout. Back Row: Cathryn Hankla, Gina Occhiogrosso, Laura Catherine Brown, Gregory Sale, Aaron Baker, Janet Wondra, Susan Stabile, Christopher McEvoy and Elizabeth Lide. Standing: Paul Kayhart and Craig Pleasants. (Not pictured: Katherine Min.) Photo by Elizabeth Lide.
While the Fellows were fueling up, so were their tools.
Three photos above by Sheila Pleasants.

  • Resident Artists Barbara Bernstein and David Garratt—who have worked every waking hour since the derecho hit. They haven't even been able to enjoy a cool dinner at the Pleasants' because they need to continuously monitor the generator that is refrigerating all the food
  • Facilities Manager Mike Patterson—who has been on the job every single day since the derecho shook up our world
  • Jenny, Gwen and Chef Sarah—for serving up three nourishing meals a day under very trying conditions
  • Kathy Chase—and the congregation at Ascension Episcopal for their generosity in opening their doors to our Fellows
  • Amherst Public Library—another cool escape for our Fellows
  • Sweet Briar College computer labs—another port for Fellows in the post-derecho storm
  • Cheryl Elkins—head of summer programs at Sweet Briar College, for offering the Fellows housing relief

 We have air conditioning and phones, but no Internet yet


Pam Satran said…
Wow, amazing. I can't imagine writing without a computer but I bet the writers produced some amazing stuff! And so great Sheila and Craig have been hosting dinner every night. I wish I was there.....kinda.

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