Not being a TV watcher, I didn’t know if Sandy was a boy or a girl. Was Sandy short for Alexander or Alexandra, or was this Sandy named for his or her red hair?
Yesterday was Sandy Day. Schools were closed and life-as-usual put on hold. While the trees around my apartment waved and swirled, I watched for the photos posted to Facebook by friends and friends of friends: photos of flooded Five Corners, flooded Edgartown, surf crashing over Beach Road and South Beach. The awesome power of the natural world.
Exactly 21 years ago, the No-Name Nor’easter of 1991 flooded Five Corners. The Martha’s Vineyard Times, for which I was working at the time, was about to move into the spiffy new offices that it occupies today. The move was delayed while the newly laid floor recovered from its drenching.
1991 was a stormy year. Hurricane Bob arrived in mid-August, when the island was jammed with summer people and tourists. Bob, like last year’s Irene and this year’s Sandy, was a dry storm. The salt-blasted August foliage turned brown almost overnight. Areas once thickly wooded were suddenly wide open. Lilacs and forsythia bloomed in September. The house I was living in lost power for nine days. We got water from the fire station on the Edgartown Road.
All day yesterday I expected the power to go out. It flickered several times but kept coming back. Finally around 3 p.m. it flickered, died, and didn’t come back. Deprived of storm photos and stories, I entered several months of credit card statements into Quicken while my laptop’s battery dwindled. Around 4, Travvy and I set out for a walk under the swirling trees. The outside lights were on at the West Tisbury School. They must have a generator, I thought — but why would they be wasting generator power when school was closed?
Closer to home, I spotted a light on in a neighbor’s house. Huh? At the next neighbor’s, there were even more lights, and my closest neighbor’s house was, as the saying goes, lit up like a Christmas tree. My neighbor was out in the yard. “The power’s back already?” I called. “What kind of storm is this?”
He’d been making the rounds inviting the neighbors over to eat up his homemade ice cream before it melted. It wasn’t going to melt, but he said come on over anyway after I’d had supper. Which I did.
This morning Travvy and I checked the neighborhood for damage. Plenty of twigs and small branches littered our route, but only two trees were down, both on footpaths. At 11 a.m. I had a dentist appointment near Five Corners. Apart from some rather large puddles, the roads in Vineyard Haven were back to normal.
New Englanders like to say “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” It seems denizens of every other region say exactly the same thing, and I’m guessing that for them, as for us, this is usually an exaggeration. Not today. When Trav and I set out for our morning walk, it was overcast. A few minutes later it started raining. The rain stopped. Blue sky appeared overhead. While I made my breakfast, the clouds rolled in again. While I was at the dentist’s, the sky out the window was idyllic blue with a few drifty white clouds.
This afternoon it clouded over again. As sundown approached, thunder rumbled in the distance then got louder. The rain started gentle, then came down torrential, then stopped.
Sandy seems to have moved on. Like Irene, s/he let us off easy. New York City and New Jersey weren’t so lucky.