Eye of the Storm
There is something about waking up in the rain, the sky ripped open, asphalt shingles doing their best impression of a tin roof. The wind has been howling such that I now only notice the moments when it isn’t blowing, when the only sound is the hum of my refrigerator.
The other Saturday it rained like this. Never before...all this...has my mood been so linked to weather like it is now. As long as I can still get outside and walk, there is some hint of normalcy to my routine. I know on Cape and Islands there isn’t bad weather so much as someone who isn’t well prepared. From the comfort of my house, donning my yellow raincoat and rain overalls and passing myself off as an old salt wasn’t all that appealing, either.
That Saturday would have been Christmas Stroll on Nantucket, most any other year. How strange it is not to wonder, or really care, if the boats are going to run, if the tourists will be able to come over, if we should run our errands early in the day before the streets are too crowded. The DPW and shop keepers made sure the town looked beautiful, with Christmas trees and holiday lights all along our tiny streets. Even if nobody but those of us who live here year-round will get to see them, it is nice that there is something lighting up the town after the sun sets at 4 o’clock.
Around two on Saturday, the clouds parted. I stopped what I was doing--a lot of nothing--and drove downtown. I didn’t stop to think about the tides and the wind and the rain, and held my breath as I made my way through the flooded harborfront streets. Bigger cars and SUVs barreled through the water, giving no regard to my attempts not to leave a wake. One of these days, I’ll get a truck or something that can navigate flooded streets and rutted out dirt roads that turn to sand.
There were just a couple hours before the break in the weather would give way to the setting sun, before the the rest of the storm system moved in. Grand summer homes along Hulbert Ave were shuttered. Huge pieces of plywood covered plate glass windows that would have otherwise reflected back the blue-green of the harbor. Snow fences hoped in vain to hold back the sand. And sandbags, tucked under front doors, stood waiting in service. It was a whole landscape full of small interruptions, trying to stem the tide.
Down by Brant Point Light, decorated for the holidays with a giant wreath, families pose for holiday photos. The hospital send outs their update--our case count continues to climb. A bride gathers her skirts and moves carefully across the wet sand, heels leaving dime-sized holes in the muck. Some people wear masks, others let them billow in the wind around their necks like small sails, deflated.
Life keeps going on, albeit adapted. There is still water in the streets. The sky opens up before I get back to my car. The bride and I and everyone else are caught in the storm.