Thursday, September 2, 2010

hurricane earl

Last night, Hurricane Earl maybe a few hundred miles off the coast, a few of us went down to the beach. Yesterday evening you could see the storm coming in some ways. There were faster moving, higher clouds, wispy like pulled-apart cotton, catching pink light way high up. And it was breezier--maybe it's my imagination or maybe you start to sense this sort of thing after years of hurricanes, but you could tell it was coming. It was clear for miles yesterday, less humidity than there's been, and so all day I was thinking about how it must have been before there were forecasts and, when one day it was blue and calm, then the wind picked up, and then the sky got dark. I wonder what the pilgrims thought when the first hurricane hit them.

Yesterday it was beautiful, and last night even moreso. Over the ocean in one direction it was so dark you couldn't see the horizon, but above us, between the fast strips of clouds, stars and stars and stars. And so we stood by the water, warm tropical breeze, watching what we could of the water but mostly listening. This part of the beach is at the end of a barrier island, right where the sound meets the ocean. There's a jetty to the left if you're looking out over the water and so it forms something like a cove. This isn't exactly the right word, but it's normally small and calm like a lake, still enough that at its calmest I've gone night swimming and have been able to see my feet waist deep with the moonlight. Last night the waves were slamming against the jetty, onto the shore. This sounds silly, but to stand on the edge of a continent waiting for a tremendous, powerful storm, the wind spinning off it, obscuring the southeastern horizon--well, perspective and scope are turned on their sides. I felt this way watching the Andes as we drove through them, winding past a mountain bigger than anything I've seen before. What am I next to an ocean and a sky that can churn up something so vast?

All that said, the ten year old in me who wanted to be a meteorologist--something for which I have hurricanes to thank--has been watching this storm since this weekend, hoping it heads this way. It looks like it's going to pass a few miles too far east of us to do much more than give us a squally, rainy night. But the plan is to open the blinds of our sliding glass door and lie on our backs watching the pines toss above the roofs, to keep an eye on the small river that tends to form between the apartments. If we get enough rain, I worry about flooding around the city. And if the power goes out, we have a few candles that smell like Christmas to further confuse our senses. It may miss us, it may not, and it's about twelve hours out from knowing. So we'll see. More to come!

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