Saturday, August 27, 2011

Where the wind went sweeping down the lane

You guys, this week has been a little bit ridiculous. We're still addressing some minor earthquake damage and tonight I'm blogging underneath a hurricane.

In the fall of 2003, the lovely husband and I had lived through two DC "winters" and done our fair share of mocking the locals and their weather frights. And then Hurricane Isabel came through town. We demonstrated proper weather reverence that night.

We lived in our townhouse, then, on a quiet little road. Each townhouse was set back slightly from the one before it as the road sloped downhill. It was picturesque, we thought, as townhouses go, but it was our first purchased home and we had romantic notions of what exactly constituted picturesque; we overlooked its imperfections and embraced its light-filled entrance and cheery red door. Each townhouse looked the same -- same shape, same single Bradford pear tree in the front, same concrete driveway on the left. All that changed were the door colors and the scenes inside their windows.

It was like Mr. Pine's Purple House. There were (less than) 50 houses all in a line. Each house had a tree. And then one night, all the trees fell.

That stepped-back design proved disastrous on the night of Hurricane Isabel. The first townhouse at the top of the lane was the neighborhood's windshield. The lovely husband and I watched tv until the cable went out, then we read quietly until we were too jittery to read, then we just sat...awake...waiting.

The first tree at the top of the street fell just after sunset. The tree in front of the second house fell about 45 minutes later. Like dominos, trees toppled one by one. Every so often, we'd pop out the front door and guess. Our house was second from the end and around 2am we heard it. Our lovely little pear was gone.

The next morning, Isabel left town and we all emerged, stunned. On our side of the street, not a single tree had survived. It was a solemn and strange experience.

Two or three chainsaw-owning neighbors worked together to clear the road and we never bought firewood again. But I'll always remember staying awake through Hurricane Isabel, waiting for the moment when our tree would fall.

So, 2011, hello, Irene. Rain has been falling since mid-morning. Wind is getting louder. I think, based on that strong memory, that this storm is lighter than that one. But the worst won't be here for several hours. This isn't super fun, but I think we're going to be fine.

But listen- if too many traffic lights are out around our county tomorrow, they'll probably cancel the first day of school on Monday. And I can't really handle that. So let's all hope for a nice mild outcome, okay?

And I don't want to see any pestilence or anything next week, either.
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