Tuesday, August 30, 2011
We woke up to the rain, windows closed the night before in preparation. It was a rainy morning almost like any other, and we sat in our pajamas and watched the rain fall. The water pooled in both the front and backyards. The basement leaked. The radio talked. The phone rang all morning--were we okay? What was the path of the storm? When would it get bad?
Mid morning, we got a call from friends of ours we hadn't seen in years. They were at a wedding nearby, and although they were supposed to get back to New York that day, there was no way. Could they come? The house filled with friends, and we all watched the rain. The power stayed on, we waited for it all to come.
When I was six, hurricane Gloria hit. We were living with my mother's boyfriend out in a log cabin in the woods. I don't remember where he was, but she and I played cards all day, declaring War or yelling Spit! and the day is so clear for me. We walked out onto his deck that extended into the trees when the eye came. I think the sky was blue, at least I remember it that way. The air was still and clear and we marveled and looked into the forest. Then the wind came again, and we went back to our card game. I remember that day- I remember that my mother and I were such partners in the world, and we weathered that storm. I don't remember if we lost power or whether that day was more or less dangerous than this day just now, but I remember that, being six, I loved that day, and I loved my mother.
We didn't know what would happen on Sunday. We filled jars of water and we had flashlights and candles ready, and we had plenty of fuel for the grill. I thought about what we could grill if our power was out for days and days. I thought about what would happen if our whole world changed because of this storm. You never know when the world will change, what event we'll look back on and say that we thought we were solid, and then the power went out and the telephone lines came down and life shifted completely.
We sat through the night in our house while the wind did its best. At one point, something big hit the window, and we admitted that it was better that it was finally dark so that we didn't have to watch the trees bend and sway and lose their limbs. We could stay in the warm room with our dinner and our scrabble board and hope that the walls would hold. I made up couches and beds for our friends, and then we went to sleep.
In the morning, we learned more of what had been happening all around us. The girls and I drove to the next town to buy new school shoes, and each little river we crossed was fuller and more vigorous than the next. One neighborhood along a river had taken in the river itself, and water extended to each house's back door. Even strangers were talking to each other, sharing the same sentiment. We escaped it this time. It could have been worse. I am so thankful.
Thankful, but heartbroken for those whose main streets are filled with water, whose houses are ruined, who lost so much in the storm. Oh, New England. You are strong and beautiful and bursting with life.
There is nothing like a storm to make us stop for a moment, and to think thoughts that don't always make their way in. I could lose all of this, and as long as the kids are okay I wouldn't care. Who of my neighbors needs my help? Yes, it is rough out there. But I will come and save you, if need be. We have enough, and more than enough to share.
Had we lost power, I had beets ready. It would have been sweet, earthy beets on the grill to sustain us through whatever was to come. But as the power stayed on, we cooked on the stove, and saved the beets for a sunny day.
Cut the greens from the beets, and trim the tops and tails. If the skins are thick, peel them.
Cut the beets into 1 1/2-inch thick slices. Brush with a bit of olive oil and tamari or soy sauce. Grill the slices for 10 minutes on each side, or until they are sweet and soft inside.