I posted my last blog just before Hurricane Sandy’s arrival. I apologize. Reading about meditation equipment, or probably anything related to meditating, is totally boring in comparison to a super storm, or, as the newscasters like to say, “THE STORM OF THE CENTURY!”
Here in northern Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C., we were right in the path of those red satellite bands marking the storm’s movement, which was forecast to hit on Monday and Tuesday. Driving back from a Saturday soccer game 2 1/2 hours away, we passed a long caravan of Allstate Insurance mobile claims vans. Queu the Jaws soundtrack.
We got in our 8:00 a.m. soccer game Sunday morning (ouch) and spent the rest of the day battening down the hatches. Gutters and downspouts were cleared, patio furniture was secured, the more fragile bird feeders were taken down, the bunny was moved inside.
Provisions were brought in–bottled water, ice, canned goods, and baking supplies. (I had a strange, primordial need to bake as much as I could before the power went out.)
Monday morning, the day the winds were supposed to hit, I snuck out to my 7:45 boot camp class–maybe the only activity that wasn’t cancelled in our area. I squeezed in one last stop at the grocery store for more baking supplies and snacks to cover the two-day school cancellation that had already been announced.
Once home, I dove into nesting, racing against the clock to stay ahead of the winds and heavy rains that were sure to snatch the power away. While banana and pumpkin breads baked in the oven, I cycled through laundry loads, remembering the mountains of smelly clothes that always accumulated in storm-induced outages.
When all the laundry was done and six fragrant loaves were lined up on cooling racks, I took a shower, as if I were getting ready for an important guest.
Many of you know that I rarely watch TV. I can’t take the noise, commercials, and mind-numbing content of most of it. Stepping off my high horse, the truth is that, once I start watching, it’s hard for me to stop. All of my priorities suffer as a result, so I avoid TV attachments.
But I did keep the TV news on as Sandy approached. The images of devastation in coastal areas and the first shots of what was happening in New Jersey and New York were heart wrenching.
Tucked away in our little cocoon, though, the boys were begging to go out, insisting, “It’s just raining!”
I used the local news reports to boost my case. There was plenty of footage from spots nearby to point to — trees on top of houses, trees on top of cars, trees blocking roads.
The boys squawked when their dad and I insisted we were all sleeping in the basement Monday night. We went to bed, flashlights at the ready. The worst of the sustained winds and gusts were supposed to happen overnight. I was sure we would wake up to a cold, silent, electricity-free house.
But we didn’t. Not only did we have heat, but the numbers on the clock radio weren’t even flashing. We never lost power at all.
“I told you, I told you!” my sons chided when they got up. “This storm wasn’t anything!”
And again, I had to turn to the TV, where we saw images of building fronts torn off, massive flooding, and houses ablaze in the midst of swirling water. But somehow, it still seemed far off to them. They needed to hear the less dramatic but closer-to-home stories to make it real: the thousands without power in our own area, tales of tree damage just around the corner, the closure of 80 roads in our county.
We missed the excitement of using flashlights and playing board games by candlelight. And I must admit, I was looking forward to a forced sabbatical from wifi and TV. The closest thing we got to a disaster was when my 14-year-old offered to fill up the bathtub in case we lost water service and forgot to turn off the faucet (I averted the flood at the last possible second).
I find that as a parent, empathy is a hard thing to teach. You can’t order a child to feel someone else’s pain. I’ve turned it around more recently to focus on how fortunate we are, how grateful we should feel. I think (I hope) they get it.
How about you? For those of you in the path of the storm, did you get off as easily as we did? I do hope so!