Sunday, November 27, 2011

What Was I Thinking?

Silly me, thinking life would calm down after Em and Ry’s wedding. Slow its pace a bit. Dish out more expectation than surprise.
How could I have forgotten what I learned years ago? "Normal" is an over-rated myth. The road to everyday, as in paths common and ordinary, is more of a slippery slope. I mean, really – just three weeks after the wedding, (a time frame within which I had fooled myself into believing life would begin to follow a predictable path) storm Alfred blew in through one overnight, reminding little ol’ Mommy-of-the bride me, NOT to take Mother Earth for granted. The she-god’s point, via stormin’ Al, could not be taken lightly, not after the snowy intruder ushered in over a week of no heat, no electricity, and no work (since the community college where I teach was shut down from Monday right through Friday).
I was one of the lucky ones. I had hot water through the powerless week. I could handle the debris in my yard as opposed to not-so-fortunate neighbors who required tree removal services – some  before the electric company could reattach their power lines. I did have one casualty, though, my favorite tree out back below the kitchen window. A dull stump the thickness of two fists now sits where a hundred-year-old wisteria stood three weeks ago. It's sawed just below  the bough that broke from the weight of the single-night’s storm, a break that continued to split into the twisted trunk. The damage would have rotted the tree to death, for sure. This way there’s hope, according to my good neighbor, the one with a chain saw.
Come to think of it, during that short time between Em and Ry's brilliant wedding day (the second week in October) and the wintry October anomaly (the last)  my sought-after normal got interrupted by capricious highs and lows: a surprise letter (snail-mail even) from a long-absent pal, two cancer diagnoses of close friends - both of whom had surgery in that time, news of two engagements, a perfectly healthy woman's passing followed by the surprising recovery of an elderly neighbor, the rise and fall of three presidential nominees, record-breaking volatility in the stock market, and one European crisis after the other. Reminds me of a poster I had on my college dorm room forty-plus years ago: Not to Decide is to Decide. Today’s equivalent would be  Expect the Unexpected.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mother Nature's Trick: No Treat

Been  just over three weeks since Em and Ry’s “ I-dos.” Thank goodness  the date is that far behind us because, had  the wedding  taken place three weeks later, Mother Nature would have wrecked havoc on the event. I’m not talking about just dampening the spirit of the day with rain, or a bit of inconvenient snow. I’m talking  about how, if the wedding was the last weekend in October, Mother Nature would have crushed the party with a freak October blast of a foot of heavy snow. The party would have turned into a non-party because the conditions would have been too much for mid-autumn’s foliage to manage.

Three weekends  after the Hayden/Mullen wedding, an unseasonal storm did arrive and trees throughout  most of the state cracked, split, and fell upon power lines so forcefully that, not only were lines downed, but transmission stations blew  and substations malfunctioned. Just short of 850,000 households in CT lost power for more than seven days.  Some, including 25% of my town, along with more than 80,000 homes in the state, still haven’t had power restored. Since the power went out  Saturday, October 29 and, in over half the state, continued to be out Saturday, November  5, two weekends of weddings, sporting events, and get-aways from the work week in Connecticut were impacted by the  freak storm and its aftermath.  Massachusetts had a similar toll. Halloween was virtually cancelled, along with  more than a week of school and some workplaces.
 These photograph were taken on a walk around my neighborhood the day after the storm, The landscaped remained unchanged for five days. Now, 10 days laters, 25% of the town still does not have power.
My first real shocker on the walk - just around the corner.

This branch dangled amid power line for days
Common front yard sight

Close up, a scary sight

Power lines scattered on every sidewalk

Cars skirt under wires for days.

Vehicles drive onto sidewalks to avoid felled lines.

An almost entire shut down of life-as-we-Nutmeggers-know-it ensued. Thankfully, mild daytime temperatures kept  pipes from freezing. My home averaged 45 degrees through each heatless night.
Yet, we were lucky  and we know it. We of the wedding and we who  -- just over a week after the quirky storm --  are starting to get back to normal. Other wedding planners  weren’t.  The press hasn’t even had a chance to cover the "fluffier" inconveniences of the storm – like rescheduled ceremonies and parties – as opposed to the  critical scoops of the day: restoring power, removing brush, branches, and limbs from major roads and neighborhoods, CO2 poisonings, storm-related car accidents, smashed roofs and porches, emergency housing, and power politics.  The state population has, basically, been camping indoors or seeking shelter elsewhere for about as long as a family vacation. The anti-family-vacation.
May we all move closer and closer to our wonderfully ordinary days and eventually, rescheduled red- letter days, through this second week of post-storm recovery.