My home was one of the many thousands left without power in the aftermath of tropical storm Irene.
The lights went out late Saturday evening while my 13 year old son and I were laying in my bed watching ghost stories on television. The wind was whipping around outside, rattling the windows. Unable to sleep and concerned about the trees in my back yard, he and I ventured downstairs.
From my patio doors, we watched the trees perform a ballet in the wind, bending and swaying with each gust. Satisfied that the trees would not reach the house if they were to fall in the storm, we moved to the front of the house to inspect for flooding.
There was just enough illumination from the moon for us to see that water was pooling in my front yard but the road was not flooded – important since we live on an estuary and with no power the sump-pump wasn’t going to work.
My son put the lens of the small flashing up against the side window trying to light up the night. From across the street, our neighbor began flashing her light back. Of course we hadn’t expected to be observed in our little late night adventure and were surprised. We both began laughing
Confident we weren’t going to be smashed under a fallen tree or washed away, we returned to my bedroom where we lay talking until he fell asleep. I didn’t have the heart to wake him, so I let him sleep beside me.
The next morning, after the last drizzle of Irene passed, I braved a walk through the local county park with our dog. As I expected, the path was covered with leaves and fallen branches. I counted six trees uprooted and blocking sections of the walkway. The wind was still gusting and I became concerned for my own safety once or twice when I hear the creaking a cracking of limbs above me.
Otherwise, my walk was invigorating. The air was so fresh and crisp I felt as if I couldn’t breathe enough of it. At one point, we encountered a tree blocking our way and I had to make a decision – go back, climb over, or go under. We went under.
Back at home, I opened the windows and let the cool breeze blow through the house. I swept, dusted and tidied up. I spent the middle of the day running fun errands and exploring with my family. That evening, my older son got the grill out and made hamburgers and beans for dinner.
With no television to entertain us, we dusted off the Monopoly game. My two sons, my older son’s girlfriend, her young daughter and I played for a few hours, only quitting when we could no longer see the board by candlelight. Then, sat in my living room talking and sharing stories in the glow of scented candles until we were all feeling quite sleepy. We retired for the night and all slept well with the natural air conditioning blowing in through the open windows.
The following morning, my older son and I were commiserating about the fallout from the storm when my son commented how nice a day we had spent together the previous day. Lemonade!