The rain is falling steadily now. This morning’s eerie silence, the calm before the storm that has now, after so much talk, finally reached land. We are still a whole day away from the stormiest part of Irene, which will pass over us or possibly just to the west, depending on which track it takes or which weather service you believe. However it turns, we’ll get a lot of wet wind, so we’re hunkerin’ down, bracing ourselves for the storm.
It felt counter-intuitive, yesterday, to be driving toward the storm’s intended path instead of away from it, but we’d sent Short-pants and Buddy-roo to Boston with De-facto‘s brother’s family while we went elsewhere to work for a week, and as news of the storm grew fiercer, so did my desire to be reunited with my children. I don’t think there’s going to be any catastrophe where we are, but still, the tight grips of last night’s i-missed-you-so-much hugs felt especially reassuring. I wouldn’t want this storm to hit while we were separated.
Earlier this week, in the midst of a workshop, the participants in our group stood up and walked out the door and went outside, right in the middle of an exercise. I hadn’t felt a thing, but the swaying chandeliers were enough proof until the news reports confirmed an unusual east coast earthquake. Its impact was slight, but disconcerting. It feels like the planet is rumbling at us.
Living in Paris, we don’t experience these kinds of natural disasters. The occasional mid-summer canicule stirs up a lot of press; I remember the summer I was pregnant for Buddy-roo and nearly 15,000 people died from the heatwave. But most of the disasters in France are inconveniences of human origin, like transport strikes, terrorist attacks and disgruntled instances of customer service.
With the exception of one year when I lived in quake-prone San Francisco, I have always managed to make my home in places where tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes are rare, something that happens elsewhere. Although I could note that the last (and only) time I witnessed a hurricane was when I was living in Boston, and Gloria drove up the east coast and battened us down. I spent most of that storm at the radio station where I worked at the time, listening to Van Morrison or The Doors, again and again.
“There’s a hurricane coming and I’m scared!” Buddy-roo’s first words as we got out of the car, stretching our stiff, cramped legs from the long drive.
“You can be scared if you want,” I told her, “but better to be smart.”
We started a list of all the things we needed to have on hand: flashlights, batteries, candles, food supplies and extra water for drinking and flushing. She tired of the task, so after she left we added the real necessities: wine, beer and playing cards.
This morning after shopping runs to the store, the lawn was mowed and cleared of all chairs and outdoor toys, the porch furniture was put away, the house secured. We are not close to water and mostly uphill within this suburban neighborhood so any serious flooding is unlikely. The hardest part of enduring this storm, for us, might be a few falling tree limbs and internet-interrupting power outages. I worry about the people who aren’t as sheltered as we are, and hope that they will weather the storm.
All we can do is cozy in for the evening. Good friends who live near will brave the rain to come over for what has been transformed into an indoor barbecue. A gaggle of kids that would otherwise run wild in the yard until dark may be forced to congregate around a DVD-inspired television in the family room while the adults tell stories and laugh in the kitchen. The rain outside will pound steadily through the night and we’ll sleep fitfully, dreaming about the eye of the storm until we wake up to tomorrow’s windy alarm.
There’s a storm-a-brewin’, all right. Let’s see what it brings.