This approaching storm was embraced with a small twinge of anticipation. I love intense weather – the scent of change on the wind, the shifting of light, the movement of strange skies. It is as if every cell becomes alive with the acknowledgement of the oncoming. Food, flashlights and candles were at the ready. The cell phones were charged. The gas tank was full. The laundry was done. The hanging plants and wicker chairs were brought inside from the porch. I actually cleaned the house beforehand. I was secure, and perhaps a bit smug. Bring it on, I said.
When The Hurricane came through, we lost our power for a day. Just a day. Two of our garden trellises were blown down. The windfall from our apple tree covered the back yard, like that scene from The Wizard of Oz where the mean tree throws apples at Dorothy and friends. There were some limbs and branches down and a couple of plants got squashed. The roof, which usually leaks in high winds and rain, did not. And so, it mostly was a weekend with an imposed lack of electronics, which had a sweet flip side to it. No television. No internet. Reading by the window. Playing instruments. Cooking on the gas stove. Taking a nap. Staying home. Having a real conversation. Being still.
Following all the media hype, it appeared to be a Kohoutek of storms – like the awaited comet event, all anticipation and then not much show. Really sort of a Y2K event. Hysteria leading up to a fizzle. At least that was our experience…. at the moment.
After the storm passed through, strong, balmy, intoxicating breezes rushed through these streets. The afternoon sky was moving from gray to gold with an ethereal opening of blue, as it prepared for a rainbow. Our cell phones had run down by then and we still did not have power, so we decided to take a walk and assess the situation, and look for a place to recharge them. We met other neighbors walking around the streets, all with that same, somewhat dazed look of amazement, as if Not In Kansas Anymore. We gaped at the fallen trees, hanging wires, water running down the hills and into the street, pump hoses trailing out of basements. It’s all so random. Gee, we were lucky, we said.
It soon became apparent that not all fared as well as we did – and as the days wore on and the flood waters continued to rise, it seems that our county and the mountain communities surrounding us were some of the hardest hit – CNN newsworthy material. Seeing the devastation and loss that some of our friends and neighbors have gone through now – the ruined homes, vanished towns and lost memorabilia, so heartbreakingly beyond a whole lot of apples in the back yard – has wiped that smugness right off my face. I am humbled.
In the past month we have now experienced an earthquake, a hurricane, and witnessed a fatal house fire just three doors down from us. I told the Significant Other that we can probably expect plague and pestilence next. Gypsy moths? Bedbugs? A new strain of flu? If one is inclined to wax biblical, there is probably some material here.
Thoughts and reminders:
* We are so diminutive next to the force of nature
* How amazingly resourceful man can be in the face of disaster
* There is beauty in a community coming together for support. We need each other and we need to help each other.
* There is tremendous strength in the human spirit.