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Tail/Tale Of The Hurricane

I dedicate this blog entry to the residents of Ulster County who survived Hurricane Irene and are working hard to repair their property and their lives. I was there, cat, dog and chicken sitting for my daughter and son-in-law while they went up to a wedding in Maine. My husband had returned to the city and, once he was gone, my plan had been (and notice the tense) to enjoy some end of summer fresh air, take long walks, read, relax, and write. But first the kitten jumped onto the keyboard and chewed on the wires, then there was a minor earthquake, then a bear attacked the chicken coop, foxes arrived, and my son-in-law’s deterrent—a spray and motion sensor light—went off continually, disturbing my sleep. Of course, the dog barked and barked and barked. I thought of my artist-cousin who recently went up to her home in Martha’s Vineyard for a week of solitude to think and work. She was so distracted by the obligations of house maintenance she couldn’t get started and ended up painting the stairwell a robin egg blue. Ever since, she’s been dreaming of Matisse.

My daughter and son-in-law drove through the night after the wedding ceremony and arrived at 4 a.m. The power had gone out around 2 a.m. and, to say the least, I was glad to see them. The rain was sheeting and smelled like the sea where it had been born. I was curled up on the bed with the dog and the cat reading the first of the Trollope Palliser novels on my Kindle with a micro-light. Cozy, but I was still uneasy until my family returned safely. And they drove into the storm so I wouldn't be alone in the house.

It was the tail of the Hurricane, a tornado-strength wind—that caused the most damage just as the power line crews were beginning to get to work the following afternoon. Of course, we knew this wind was coming but it was hard to imagine how strong it would be so far inland.

Fortunately, the damage on the property was minimal, and no one got hurt. Only one chicken died when a large branch fell onto one of the coops. Others in the area were not as lucky.

I am now back in the city after a six hour journey in a convoy—two SUV’s and two excellent GPS’s--with two savvy self-confident Canadian women. I left my small Honda upstate knowing I wouldn’t be able to get through water or over downed branches. I was also feeling skittish and did not want to travel alone. One of the by-products of natural and man-made disasters, I find, is that community coheres instantly.

I think we crossed the Hudson River three times in search of clear roads though we eventually lost track. Towards the end, we passed through Bear Mountain State Park which looked untouched, as did the city.

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