From last October: Sandy is Coming

Hurricane Sandy Satellite image
click the pic for “Things Hurricane Sandy Changed for Good”

The end of November is traditionally the end of the Atlantic hurricane season, and we saw no huge storms in 2013. Last year I had just moved, completing a pretty radical life downsizing. I was tired and bewildered and went off on retreat to St. George Island, MD, a tiny sand spit that trails out into the mouth of the Chesapeake. 

I wrote this about the incoming storm: setting-sail-into-the-storm‎

As the weekend went on it became apparent that a big storm was approaching, fated to become ‘Superstorm’ Sandy At the time, I was irked that high water was forcing an evacuation of my hotel, where I had hoped to ride out the wild weather in comfort, watching the water, wind and rain from my little sanctuary.

When I wrote this, I had no idea Sandy would create so much havoc, nor leave such a wake of conversation about our changing world in her wake. I just knew that I was changing, and had to flee before the wind.

author: Patrise Henkel
title: Storm is Rising
for: Herring Creek Writing Retreat — Tall Timbers, MD
date: Saturday, October 27, 2012
word count:  325

Sandy’s coming. Here on this Maryland island high wind and waves are a concern: we are but a slender thread of sand, water lapping at either side. Nevermind that this is called the Potomac; this sand spit thrusts out into the open mouth of the great Chesapeake, where weary ocean crossers once pulled up to rest on terra firma.

A persistent slapping on rocks, strange rocks brought here to make the sand stand still, sings of a great wind to come. Watch the gulls lift off with just a hop they coast on waves of moving air. They watch and wait on the wing. The wind pulses, lifting my hair with a gentle touch. It brings messages from the east, rushing stormward as if eager to join the fray.

But this terra is not so firm: water nibbles away the land, land that resists or yields to the whims of the wind and tide. Before we came and tried to make the land hold still, this island grew and diminished with its own rhythm of destruction and rebuilding.

Now the moon is calling. Tide swells and pushes up forested creeks, seeking the low places, sinking wet fingers into the land, loosening sand between the roots of the great trees, those guardians of the solid ground. Water rising worries the land, soaking, saturating, sucking sand out to sea.

Dry leaves rattle in the oaks. Hanging by their tough stems they flutter hissing in the breeze. Oaks stand tall, their long-fingered roots gripping firm, reinforcing the land.

But I’ve seen the great oaks break: they are tall but hollow, and too rigid to bow before the storm.  I’ve seen the great oaks fall: when earth, so wet it slips apart, yields to the force that can lift a tree into the sky.

Sandy is coming. I feel the rising tide of fear, raising tiny hairs on my neck, calling me to at once come toward and run away.

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