Every once in a while, we participate in Phase I of "the drill:"
Extra batteries? Check
Gas in the car? Check
Bottled water? Check
Patio furniture stored? Check
Hanging plants pulled down? Check
Munchies for a long afternoon? Check
However, at this moment, Hurricane Earl threatens and we've moved to Phase II, which we haven't had to implement in the eighteen years we’ve lived in this house:
Canned food? Check
Propane in the grill? Check
Bottled water? Check
Sails pulled off the boat? Check
Dinghy yanked from the dock in the harbor? Check
Generator tested? Check
It's been a long time between blows. Hurricane Bob, the last hurricane that hit us, roared to shore in 1991. Unlike folks down south, we don't see hurricanes that often. They usually peter out to wimpy tropical storm status before they reach us. So Bob was only the second hurricane either my husband or I remember. The afternoon it landed, the view from the front windows of our old house reminded me of the Wizard of Oz after Dorothy is sucked up by the tornado. Sitting on her bed, she watches cows, chickens, and the Wicked Witch blow by.
In this case, there was no Margaret Hamilton. Instead, we gazed fascinated as most of the branches that dropped southeast of us soared past our front yard—until a big one slammed into the window, ripping a hole in the screen. Looking at each other with “Duh, yea, this is dangerous” expressions, we stepped back, grateful the glass hadn’t shattered.
Meanwhile, the wind continued to carry debris across our front lawn to the lip of the retaining wall beside our driveway, where it dropped the collection. As the eye of the storm passed over us, the sun came out and we took a brief step outside to find our entire driveway piled with branches. It took a chainsaw and countless trips with a borrowed pick-up truck to clean up the debris. And power? Several days passed before we experienced that luxury again. Let's be clear though. Compared to what others went through, the impact on us was tiresome but inconsequential. Still, I'd rather skip a repeat.
Our current home is perched in a hollow, surrounded by leggy pines and a huge umbrella oak right off the back of the house. I’m trying not to contemplate our five picture-windows that enhance the woodland view. For eighteen years I’ve said, “I don’t want to go through e a hurricane here.” At this moment, it is possible that we may. As I write (I’m pre-posting this) Earl has been downgraded to a Category three hurricane which looks to make landfall on Cape Cod, about 40 miles to our south. We are within the edge of the predicted storm zone, and are under a official hurricane watch. The weather folks give themselves a 100 mile accuracy swing, so I guess you could say I'm a tad concerned.
I'm not the only one. It is screaming hot here, but even at the beach there is an uneasy quiet. Pick up trucks with boat trailers move purposefully toward the harbor. Over the last few days, the air has been dead calm, but now, a steady off shore breeze makes it hotter. In spite of the wind, the day feels like a held breath, a water balloon about to burst, and what does a girl do with all that anticipation? She goes to the sea to check out the waves...which are non-existent. Just how I wish this storm would be.
10:00 a.m. update. Earl is down to Catagory One. Our town is about five miles south of where the hurricane warning line ends...so fingers crossed that by tonight, we creep into the "tropical storm" zone. A FB comment from Virginia Beach described Earl as "One big sissy." I'll take it.