Monday, October 29, 2012


the piano tuner came on that thursday afternoon in 1996 as the wind whipped the oak branches around. off-key scales lifted through the house, and as i opened the front door to take a look, the door flew out, away from the house and i thought it might leave its hinges.

it's gonna be a strong one, the tuner said as he left, eyeing the sky. Fran.

Fran, 1996, when she hit raleigh
that night i couldn't settle, worried about what this hurricane might do to us, as we waited in the night a little more than 100 miles inland from where she hit land. the kids were sleeping, and my husband told me to chill, but then a tree slammed our deck and shook all the windows, so we  grabbed the kids up and headed down to the family room, bundling up and listening to radio reports of flooding and trees down all over town.

 lightning flashed without sound through the 13 windows across the back of my house. i could hear my grandmother's voice: why in the world would somebody want so many windows in a house? transformers blew all night. pow. pow. trees fell. pow some more. until the winds calmed at dawn, and we finally slept.

the next morning huge oaks littered our yard like so many pickup sticks, clutches of dislocated leaves plastered against the house and windows so we could hardly see out. down the street, trees lay on Grace's house as if God had set them down gently, knowing she'd already lost much to a tornado a few years before.

we were the lucky ones. power back in after only a few days, no trees on the house exactly. just everywhere we looked.

today i have been pulled toward the news about Sandy, which in just a few hours time will slam into the doorstep of the pea's building on the upper west side of Manhattan. this morning i sent them in email about making sure the remembered to charge their phones and iPads before turning one off for safekeeping, so they can still communicate with their worried parents. god, such a mom i can hear them saying. 

sure. a mother who has lived through a hurricane's howl. one who never, ever in her life wants to be witness to that again.

be aware of the closest shelter, i said. do they even have flashlights? i imagine their reality tomorrow of walking the dog down 10 flights of stairs (and back up) in the pitch dark when rain and wind are still sweeping the streets outside.

i am worried. i am praying. they are thinking of where they can have supper tonight.just wind so far, says the text. well, it's the wind you worry about first.

i've known that sense of folly, when the tv folks cry what seems to be entire packs of wolves, so many that everybody ignores their pleas to provision, except to gather enough food and drink for a pretty good party. 

i hope the weather guys are wrong this time, but all the while i hope, i see that nautilus cloud churning and churning her skirts closer to shore, not yet losing her shape.

Sandy hasn't even left north carolina yet, but she twirls ever so slowly into virginia, maryland and new jersey — she is that big. she has lazily meandered more than 1,500 miles up the coast despite her modest cat 1 strength. has taken just under 100 lives so far, two of them, it appears, plucked from a sinking ship off the north carolina coast today. now, she is more like a steam engine as she heads into shore, finally, to all who sit in wait.

Fran, when she barreled into north carolina in 1996 was a brunhilde of a storm, ursula in the little mermaid the pea used to watch. but Sandy's girth — and her wind — add to my worry. 

so we sit. we wait. we watch the skies. hope the weather guys are wrong. and pray for the safety of all.

ps: Tuesday morning: all is well on the Upper West Side, though much of lower Manhattan is under water. thanks for all the prayers and inquiries. We will wait to hear more.  

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