By now, many of you may be tired of hearing about Tropical Storm Sandy. For me, it was one more first, being alone in the biggest storm in recent memory and so I ask your forgiveness and tolerance for what I am about to write.
The height of the storm was terrifying, even for one who loves big storms. It was loud and unrelenting. In all the years of watching storms here, it is hard to recall a time when the tallest tree in our yard bent so oddly.
Throughout Monday afternoon and well into the evening, things crashed, banged and swooshed. There were a few people out at different points testing the strength of the wind, but not for long. I myself went out a couple of times in the evening to feel the storm, but did not venture away from the house. Very few cars went by.
I spent the better part of the day sitting by the fire, trying to remain calm while finishing the first of many scarves that will be knitted this fall. Listening to the clacking needles, the fire, wind, rain, crashing, and my pounding heart, I thought about the impermanence of life and all who were in harm’s way. Each stitch contained a prayer, a worry, a hope and a dream. It took many hours but eventually my mind had relinquished control over outcome, and I started to relax.
A golden thread of care connected me to loved ones in British Columbia, Detroit, Ottawa, Northboro, and neighbors, who checked in regularly throughout the long day.
The houses at my end of the street retained power, but the very next house, and most of the neighborhood in every direction, was in complete darkness by nightfall. I went to bed, with my flashlight, cellphone, and shoes within easy reach. It was a marathon vigil, as if staying awake would in some way prevent disaster.
At some point, I must have fallen asleep, because I woke up about 4 am, and kissed Freeba the bear, who was doing her best as Molly’s stand in. I said my first prayer for those who did not survive, and one for those who did, and then jumped out of bed. Barefoot, dressed only in my nightie, just as I had done the night I summoned the grandmothers to help with mom, I headed out into the grey, half-moon and partially approaching day light of the backyard.
Amazingly, although the lawn looked like an easter egg hunt made of branches, the trees remained. There was a drain pipe that had blown down which was easily repositioned, and a few places on the house where corners of siding had lifted. I laughed out loud at the tickle of wet leaves that covered my feet like a pair of slippers. Tears immediately flooded my eyes, and joy filled my heart. Gratitude spilled into every pore and crevice of my body.
The photos above were all taken the morning after the storm in a small four block radius from my house, beginning with the one two doors up. The music is Fairy of the Woods, by Gary Stadler.
Venturing out later in the day with a neighbor, we discovered the damage in other parts our community were far more extensive and dangerous.
Throughout the day, there were a steady stream of neighbors plugging things in, putting food in the freezer, and even a beloved who came to bake a cake for her husbands 50th birthday. Things took on a holiday air. No one spoke of it much, being New Englanders and all, but it was a celebration of our survival. I am grateful to all who offered comfort and support.
My heart is heavy for those who sustained loss and injury of unimaginable proportions. May they find the comfort of healing in the recovery ahead and gratitude for all that remains.