The morning Hurricane Sandy arrived I walked my parents’ Brittany spaniel and American cocker in the forest and fields around a pond in my New York home town. I warned every deer I saw that a big storm was coming. I didn’t feel they really needed my warning.
The wind shaking the remaining colors off the trees and the clouds being pushed like shoveled snow was proof enough. We walked a long time that afternoon, enjoying the remaining balance of nature. The wind was warm, reminding me of California’s Santa Anas.
When I arrived home, the neighbors’ chickens where scurrying about making talkative busy noises. My father and I went out together to stock up on goods, passing gas stations with NO GAS signs. As the sun began its downward curve, Rosie the Brittany and Ziggy the cocker stared out the big double-paned windows watching pine trees bend in the distance. The power flickered, then went out. The generator didn’t start. My father couldn’t find the key, and once he did he needed to rush out for coolant. The darkness brought the powerful hot and cold wind.
Rosie was obsessed with the wind, running out the dog door around the house and then scratching at the front door to be let in: “I feel the wind on my paws when I run! The smells are too much to understand. The noise outside scares me into curiosity.” She panted in pure excitement. Right before the brunt of the storm, I took Ziggy out on a leash and explained to him that he must poop and pee now because it will get worse. His eyes were wide with fear and shifting in all directions as he did what he was told. The wind tossed me several steps. I heard the cracking of trees in the distance. The full moon peered out of the clouds for an instant as if to say, “Remember me. I am bringing in the tides. But here you are safe from the waters.”
“I am locking the dog door,” I announced. Rosie watched me disappointedly and then found her post on an ottoman staring out into the darkness.
The rain was not heavy in our area but the wind was a constant swirl. It ripped the heavy screen door off my parent’s house and continuously rang the wind chimes, reminding me of the boats out at the harbor and the Bounty’s crew lost at sea.
The deer called out to me in the middle of the night, saying, “Thank you for warning.” They were in a cave by the lake, huddled together. “Where are you?” They asked. I explained to them. Pictured the south end of the lake, the trees along my parent’s driveway and the upstairs window of the house.
When we awoke we found that huge pine trees on the border of my parents property were snapped in the middle. Hundred-year-plus maples where pushed down like dominoes, leaving the underground roots exposed. The air was eerily silent and cold.
I told my mother about the deer thanking me and asking where I lived. She exclaimed, “You didn’t tell them, did you? They are eating my bushes.” Later they grazed and napped in fields in front of the pine trees just like they always have. My mother’s smile was admittance of happiness to see them safe
It didn’t take us long to notice there was spotty cell service – towers running out of diesel fuel, cancelled flights, telephone poles and trees on wires dangling over the streets, broken power lines everywhere. Most streets were impassable. The ones that were open were dangerous. There were no workers in site.
As the news started to brew my anxiousness grew greater. Friends-of-friends’ houses had burned to the ground. In the small lake community where I lived in my 20s a tree killed two young boys. My Staten Island friend had eight feet of water in his house. “I am thankful” he said. “It’s a miracle the water and sewage didn’t reach the second floor or blow out the windows. Now just waiting to hear is the foundation is safe.”
Most people were scared, cold, and had not showered. New York City to past Boston remained dark and in a state of emergency. My New York City friends confessed to being in a state of shock and exhibiting posttraumatic stress. My uncle was climbing 14 flights of stairs to get home.
My parent’s full house generator worked. We had fresh coffee and eggs for breakfast, charged our iPads with ease. With no Internet, I was disconnected from my business. I was stressed but I had time to read books, do yoga, and write a letter to my nieces about how a unicorn was brought to grammie’s and grappie’s by the windy storm.
On the day I left NY the wind outside my parents’ house was calm, but the air chilled my exposed skin. In the morning, I stood outside for a moment and prayed for the ones who are suffering. I pondered the intensity of Mother Nature. I toke a breath, centered myself, and was present. I saw five robins playing on a maple sapling. The weight of them bounced the branches like a seesaw. All their eyes were on me, acknowledging that I saw them. A white-and-black cat explored the tunnels of the downed trees. He looked back at me when I spotted him. “Good hunting” I heard. Surprisingly, the neighbor’s chickens remained quiet – afraid their sounds may bring back the wind.