After –

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.

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"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1 bakka2thesource a collaboration of musicians and artists.
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38 Responses to After –

  1. lapetinaa says:

    I don’t think I could ever have gotten through that storm alone, Beth. I have never witnessed such incredible power from Mother Nature. It was terrifying! You made it through, despite your fears, and you even ventured outside when it was still bad! You are doing it; you are getting through the tough times and what is so wonderful about you Beth, is that you are grateful for what you still have. I love you.

    • Thanks Amy. Your response brought tears to my eyes. I am now smiling as I reply. Let’s keep reminding each other ok? Gratitude all around, in every direction, as far as the eye can see and beyond. It is great to have such wonderful companionship through all life’s storms and so much more. love you.

  2. Andrea says:

    the true beauty of your soul shines from every blog post you create. I read each and every one with the fervor of unwrapping a greatly-anticipated gift one piece of tape at a time, and then spend a few minutes sitting, playing your thoughts back over in my mind, and feeling a mixture of peace in my heart and pride just in knowing you. You are amazing and I am blessed to call you my friend. I love you, Beth. Thank you for all that you do.

  3. Terre Mirsch says:

    Beth, I am glad to hear that you weathered the storm safely. I agree that it was quite frightening and I, too, found myself doing a lot of busy work long into the night. Our New Jersey shore and NYC friends did not fare as well and I, like you, continue to pray for their safety, recovery, and healing.

  4. Sylvie says:

    Was thinking of you from far away… I can only imagine how scary it was to be alone wondering if the trees will stand. You sure get strong storms over there. Send pics of your knitting 🙂

    • It surely was!!! I finished the first scarf, from the picture in the last post. will put one up of the next one, Lynne bought yarn for me to knit her a scarf it is such pretty wool to work with, I keep stopping to look at it. It is so much fun making something sooooo beautiful.

  5. Clanmother says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with those who have suffered loss and for those who are beginning the clean-up!

    • Absolutely! It is barely comprehensible that life that is precious, STRONG, and fierce is also so incredibly fragile. The exciting prospect is seeing how it returns again often in new ways that are beyond imagination. First though, grappling with the loss, then the work, work, work, work required before the renewal.

  6. Mindy says:

    What perfect music to play as we together mourn the trees…

    Memories: I lived in Queens (NY) a few years back, and my neighborhood looked like that after the tornado… so many trees suddenly at the end of their life. My eyes could barely understand the enormity of the houses and cars crushed, and the huge bites of earth upended by the roots… for weeks then the sound of chainsaws… and the clean bracing smell of newly cut wood.

    And today: A few old friends from up north, with whom I only have a facebook connection, have been dark since Monday.

    Memories: My daughter played soccer for years and her team often travelled to Breezy Point. Those Breezy Point girls were amazing — no matter how biting the wind and even sleet on those late fall evening games, they never wore anything but shorts and short sleeves. All blond hair and fair skin. Such hardy welsh blood.

    And today: Grateful for your post, Beth, for your sharing the beauty and fullness of your experience in and through the storm.

    • Those trees grew up with me. This neighborhood was initially a tract division designed as ‘temporary’ housing to accommodate the baby boom. My parents were the second owners of this house, the first were the builders elderly parents who moved to a nursing home one month after the house was completed, so we were the original family to live here. As a child the trees were very small spindly things that had just been planted. Well here we are 59 years later. I am 57, so in essence we have grown up together and their loss is significant. While we were watching the tree that was lifted away, I remembered sitting in that very backyard listening to a friend cry the day her brother died. that day. No comparison to human life, but mourned absolutely.

      The bits and pieces of your memories are delicious. Can’t help but wonder where the breezy point gals and their families find themselves this week. I hope the power is restored quickly to your friends. I too am grateful for you Mindy, and all you bring to enrich so many lives.

  7. Robert Vanderwaall says:

    Dear Beth, Glad you and your house are OK. I guess we have to accept Mother Nature in good times (Fall colors, first snow, spring flowers) along with the bad. Hard to see so many majestic trees get uprooted. Surprised also to see no tap root on these trees. I sang John Denver’s song “Back Home Again” several times this week thinking about those with no homes to go to. Take care and stay safe my friend. Robert v.

    • It is amazing. We often think we have control over things when clearly it is obvious that there are forces far greater and more mysterious.

      Many of the tree guys I have talked to over the past couple of days have mentioned that trees around here have had root systems, (the strong deep ones) severed in sidewalk, building, and water main repair.

      Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone who needed one, had access to a home????? Thank you for reminding me that home, even temporary is a great blessing.

  8. Samantha Amey says:

    So glad you made it through the storm unscathed. And yes, there is much to be grateful for, every day, in every way. I am continually humbled by the seemingly endless blessings that come my way. I’m looking forward to seeing pics of your knitting…….being the Yarn Slut and all 🙂 Blessings

    • So much to be grateful for. Thank you for reminding me of the great abundance of life that surrounds me. I was helping a neighbor, who is recovering from surgery last night by passing out candy to her trick or treaters, unfortunately made some kind of convoluted misstep in my gorgeous new project. Today I will access the repair that is needed and see if it is in my scope. Have you ever knitted with Madelinetosh wool? I saw it on line and am lusting after a skein. I am dreaming of colors and dreamy feel passing easily through my fingers. Right now friends who want scarves are keeping me in yarn, isn’t that amazing???

  9. I am so glad you came through it so well, and I love the picture of neighbourliness, especially baking a cake.

  10. Bob says:

    Beth
    So sorry you had to weather the storm alone. Mother Nature is full of surprises and we are reminded often. When you become part of such a storm survival mode kicks in and life changes is only briefly. We can’t sleep for all the sounds and excitement and we are happy when we awaken to view the transformation. Our world keeps changing and we are wise to change along with it. Some for the better and some not. Living through a storm of such intensity is an experience that only can be described as terrifying. We become fully alert and distressed. I hope never to have to live through another one. I felt for everyone who decided to stay put since I knew they all thought the same thing I did back in 1996 when Fran came through NC. “It can’t be that bad” Sandy was moving so slowly it was horrifying to watch. Sheer volumns of water were amazing. And 75mph winds are nothing to scoff at but you can’t know that until you nearly get blown away by them and know what fear is.
    I’m glad you’re ok. Thinking of you and all my more northern friends often!
    B

    • Thanks Bob. Your words are comforting, like a hug, that is soooo you. Think of you often too. hope you are still happily moving along in a state of bliss. much love to you. I miss our talks, but always enjoy hearing your thoughts at the very least. Hope you will keep in touch. blessings to you and yours.

  11. mike says:

    Wished I was there with you , Beth. I am just glad to know you safe and sound.. Just know ,there is not a day goes by I don’t think of you. Can hardly wait to see you .

  12. thank you for sharing with us, I believe this website genuinely stands out : D.

  13. ijwoods says:

    Beth, I’m so glad you are safe and came out of it unscathed. Wow, what a year it has been for you! On top of everything else you had to brave one of the our largest storms ever, alone. God’s given you a lot of strength. I was watching this from afar having been in the UK for the past week and occasionally seeing a satellite photo of the storm, but from here it was hard to tell what was going on until my sister, on Long Island, texted me to say they were evacuating. Normally she wouldn’t budge even if confronted by a Tyrannosaurus, so I figured it must be serious, Looking forward to speaking with you again soon.

  14. boomer98053 says:

    This storm was devastating – not just to those directly in its path – but also to the rest of the World. I feel this way because in my mind, what happens to you, happens to me; what happens to the East Coast, happens to the West Coast. We are all one, and unless we feel each others’ pain, our compassion sensors need adjusting. I’m sorry for the destruction that came down around you Blessed Beth, and I thank you for posting your Sandy article.

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  16. Thank God you survived the storm. Indeed, my prayers were and are with the families of those who were not so lucky.

    • I am so very blessed. At the same time it is a long difficult journey returning to my own life and caring about things again. I am making little tiny steps day by day. As always your encouragement and prayers are appreciated. much love to you and your family.

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