*last edited on August 28, 2011. In the eye of the storm.*
I walked up the hill this morning. 6:50 am. We knew Irene was coming, it was all a matter of time.
An eerie silence as I trudged up the hill, rain beating down rhythmically.
Icy brook, flume, bridges out.
From inside the country club it looked like rain, just rain. So I wondered to myself: Is this the hurricane? It doesn’t seem that dramatic. No big difference, really… except:
- the phones at the front desk kept ringing:
can we drive up to the club? are the roads intact? do you still have electricity? did my niece arrive already?
does the club have a back-up generator? we heard that the bridge at the swimming area was swept away already…
- the news online was showing images of cities already flooded, roads engulfed by the water.
- and the rain would NOT stop.
That night, sleeping inside the employee houses, I felt holed in with my friend Roxana, like sleeping off a bad dream, a cold, a fever. Just sleep and maybe it’ll be gone when you wake up. Or, a tiny voice inside said, maybe it’ll all be gone, the mountains, the trees, the house, the voice inside your head as well.
If you had looked outside, through the tiny window, trying to get your eyes accustomed to the dark, they would have eventually cut through the thick curtain of rain and you would have seen the trees in a kind of ecstatic dance, branches swinging wildly.
And the weirdest questions would have appeared in your mind, like:
How much more water can the earth below the house take until we start to sink?
Where are all the deer that I have seen this summer? Where do they go during the storm?
What do the mountain peaks look like now, when there’s no human eye to behold them?
More than a year later I cannot remember how long the storm lasted and how many days it rained.
What I do remember is that the country club was isolated because of the roads that were swallowed by the water. I remember the tiny shop in Keene Valley that was flooded and was in danger of running out of business, but the neighbors all helped clean it up and put it back on its feet.
I remember the road, eaten up by the *once tiny* Ausable River which had turned brown with the rain and mud that had flooded it.
And the day after:
I remember the pig roast that the people in Keene Valley organized to raise funds for the local businesses that had been affected by the hurricane.
The lovely smiles,
the feeling of community,
the good food
and the hope.
Yes, all that mushiness.
And I remember my mountains (our mountains), one month later, when they were finally open for hiking once again. Bathed in light, from the peak of Algonquin, the valleys and hills looked like nothing had ever happened.
And the sky looked innocent.
She stormed in and then stormed out again, leaving memories and scars in the constantly self-repairing world.