The weather reporters are saying it’s nothing to be frightened of but something to be prepared for. Meanwhile we’ve got a categoried hurricane heading up the coast, an undulating low heading west, and a spinning high heading south. All clamping down on the northeast. The predicting graphics on the map make it look like a steaming freight train about 800 miles wide with its lead engine rolling right over my hometown.

Last year Irene hit and I made my search for flashlights way too late. We had enough to give us some light which, considering our power was out for five days, was a good thing. Two months earlier we had taken down a 90 foot split tulip that was rotted at the base, a massive trunk that was about the size of a 9 passenger Humvee. People that I showed it to stepped quietly back as if it was about to fall any moment. Taking it down was one of the few smarter things I’ve done about home ownership.

My neighbor wasn’t so lucky. Ironically, he hates trees and, when he built his house, clear-cut his entire backyard including 100-year-old oaks. That might have been the stimulus for our suburban town to put in a law restricting the removal of trees. Unfortunately for him, the neighbors were a bit more sympathetic to the their arbors and during Irene, several came down, one crushing a truck in his backyard. He then commenced to cutting down even more oaks near the two houses he bought and rented down the block. I couldn’t tell you if he applied for any permits. I doubt it.

Silver, black, and white oaks surround my house with maples growing like weeds. Some of them more than 150 years old I’ve been told. I’ve let them grow elderly and elegant and when they’ve shadowed my house a bit too uncomfortably, had them trimmed by Mike, a slight man who wields a mighty axe. With Sandy bearing up and down, I wonder if maybe I was a bit too permissive. I thought about this last night as I made plans to seal doors, have some ready cash, make sure the flashlights and torches are properly charged and newly batteried. This morning, the boughs are filled with leaves, many still green, catching the only now slight breezes in those massive sails.

I’m about 2 miles from a coastline, my town butting up against Hempstead Harbor. During a powerful nor’easter some years ago, Morgan Island, a sequestered enclave at the northern end, was cut off from the rest of region by busted flow gates and flooding roads. Sea Cliff, the town next to me, is set at sea level and atop rising bluffs. The houses along the beach found themselves underwater, the harbor rushing into ranch homes and cottages along the lower streets. One of those that flooded years ago was quickly sold after the cleanup. I recently saw the For Sale sign up again.

Storms come with an inevitability. Yet we always seem to plan at the last possible moments. Warming yellow suns and bright full moons do make us poetic and lazy.

But, as Shakespeare wrote…

Though you untie the winds and let them fight
Against the churches, though the yeasty waves
Confound and swallow navigation up,
Though bladed corn be lodged and trees blown down,
Though castles topple on their warders’ heads,
Though palaces and pyramids do slope
Their heads to their foundations, though the treasure
Of nature’s germens tumble all together
Even till destruction sicken, answer me
To what I ask you.

By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes

Photo © julieds

If my writing to you is interrupted, imagine me leaning against the wind and rain, fists raised, demanding obedience amidst my own fury. I can only try…

[Note – above a bit of a Shakespeare mashup from Macbeth, Act IV Scene 1…]

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