This morning I didn’t wake to birds singing, the dog barking, or a kid’s impossibly thunderous footsteps. I woke to the distinct drone of a hovering helicopter. (A real one, not the toy that I flew into Hadley’s hair.)

A chopper overhead? Big deal. I tapped the snooze button and rolled over.

But when the alarm sounded again, the drone was still there. If anything, louder.

medevac helicopter, 5 years ago
Although we live in rurality (Chill out, spell check — it’s a word)…  helicopters are not unknown. Get really banged up, and you’re flying to the hospital. A few years ago a big medevac helicopter landed about 100 yards from the horses. (It was unimaginably loud.) EMTs responded to a nasty car accident about a mile away. It was summertime and the pilot didn’t want to tear up the corn crops. The hay field was the closest clearing.

This particular helicopter was not a medevac. And it hung in the sky, as though suspended by a puppet string.

“How far away do you think it is? A quarter-mile? A half?” I asked Martin. We were walking the dog and watching above. 

“Maybe a half-mile. It’s the channel 5 chopper.”

“How do you know that? It doesn’t say channel 5.”

“I just know.”

“Well, it’s not an accident. There’s no sirens.”

“Maybe it’s a hostage situation.”

We speculated about who we knew, and who’d be crazy enough to hold someone at gun point.

It’s not a hostage situation, I finally decided. “When it’s a hostage situation they circle the property and film different angles.”

“Yea, you’re right.”

“But it’s something big. They’ve been up there a half hour. Imagine the cost for that.”

After another 10 minutes the helicopter reluctantly moved off, retreating toward town.

Inside, Hadley howled when Martin switched off the Disney channel and turned on the news.

On Channel 5 some goofy guy was gushing over movie reviews. Then they showed another goofy guy spinning on the floor — apparently in celebration of the international soul festival. Finally they cut to traffic.

And there we were. Our road. On live TV.

Except that it looked like any swath of payment. Double yellow lines and asphalt sandwiched between unruly grass. Still, we recognized it. We were newsworthy. But for what?

Not a spectacular car crash. Or a hostage stand-off. Not even something outlandish, like an overturned Ben & Jerry’s truck.

The story? A pole had fallen across the road. Traffic was being diverted.

The helicopter camera zoomed in on two repair trucks, the pole and a few workers milling about. And that was it.

Fifteen seconds of fame for an oversized stick.

Then back real news. Sleeping air traffic controllers, metro budget cuts and the latest loser on American Idol.

Postscript: I heard it on good authority, from a neighbor, who heard from Joe the UPS driver that “some dumbass hit the pole” and knocked it over. (Colorful adjective, courtesy of the neighbor, but it sounds about right to me.)