Hurricane Irene was on everyone’s mind for days before she arrived. We knew she was coming, we don’t live under a rock, but we had planned to go to Southern Vermont for a long weekend, and the beautiful, sunny weather we were having made it hard to think seriously about changing our plans. We drove north to West Wardsboro where we spent a storybook day and night with our extended family. The kids took full advantage of the pond while the adults took full advantage of the kids taking full advantage of the pond to play tennis, stroll in the woods, or loll on the lawn.
Alas, some of those adults were carrying iPhones, so the specter of Hurricane Irene was always present. When the New York Times reported that a quarter of a million people were being evacuated, and the subway was being shut down, we let anxiety take its natural course. We didn’t want to leave, but we didn’t want to stay. The weather maps indicated that after New York Irene was going to cruise through Boston and after that she was planning her own visit to Vermont. We decided that we should head for home.
The drive home was uneventful, and our favorite pizza joint was still open. After dinner we brought in the deck chairs and took down the hanging plant on the porch. My husband also tried to put new D batteries into our fancy Maglite flashlight. Two pairs of pliers and a lot of elbow grease later, he still couldn’t get it open. It might be useful for clobbering a robber over the head, but its days as a flashlight are over.
As it happens we didn’t need the flashlight. We never lost power; nor did a tree fall on our house; nor did our street flood. Yes, there was some impressive wind now and again, but for the most part, for us, Hurricane Irene was a bust. I was disappointed, and I’ll bet lots of people felt the same way. The build-up is overwhelming; inescapable; constant. If, however, you admit to being disappointed when a much-anticipated disaster passes you by, someone more sensible is bound to say, in a tsk-tsk tone of voice, “You should be grateful that nothing bad happened to you or anyone you love.”
After the hurricane, the same media that had whipped us into a frenzy to match Irene’s started reporting on the results. People were flooded, stranded, lost their homes. Bridges were damaged and washed away. Although the worst damage on our street was relatively benign, huge trees fell elsewhere in town, blocking roads and ripping up sidewalks. Below is a picture of the road we drive to get to the house in West Wardsboro.
Next time a natural disaster passes me by I promise not to whine. Instead I’ll say, “I am so grateful that nothing bad happened to me or my loved ones.”