Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010

Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010
Photo by R.E. Berg-Andersson

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Waiting for Irene

I am waiting for a hurricane.

When I went out earlier to run some errands, the streets in my part of town were quiet. No one out or around. The closer I got to town, the more traffic increased. A lot of people were acting like it was just another humid, overcast day.

Perhaps I should be that way, denying that just days after a major earthquake hit the region, a Category 2 storm 600 miles across is making its windy way through areas I know well - the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the Delmarva peninsula, Cape May - straight for the greater NY area.

The coastal part of Brooklyn where I was born and where my parents and paternal grandparents lived is under mandatory evacuation. The part of Far Rockaway, Queens, where my maternal grandmother died is under mandatory evacation.

My life is tied to the shore, and Irene will be at her worst tomorrow on what would have been my mother's 91st birthday.

As I sit in what I hope is a sturdy house 30 or so miles west of New York City, I wonder about the birds. They have begun heading south - I found three types of warblers in one little area of Flat Rock Brook Park in Englewood within 2 minutes Friday morning - and unless they make a wide turn toward Pennsylvania they are going to head into a hurricane. A lot of birds may just come down where they are and stay put.

Many will die.

The sea birds may ride out the storm far into the ocean although I am sure there is at least one person on a south-facing beach, watching for a shearwater or storm-petrel to be blown in. That is nuts. I have taken in my thistle feeder and I hope the pair of goldfinches that had been using it are not blown out of one of my trees.

Category 1 or 2 hurricanes don't hit New York City that often, certainly not in the same week as a major earthquake, just in time for the new moon and higher tides. Remember all the snow of last winter in New Jersey? The unusual cold? The heavy spring rains and the intense heat that made May feel like August? There is something unnatural going on in Nature, and I hope those people who don't believe in global warming realize the error of their ways.

In the meantime I have done as much as I can but feel helpless at what may come. My husband, the scientific type, is monitoring TV reports and plotting the hurricane on his maps. It is his way of feeling like he is accomplishing something.

This post is my attempt. Godspeed.

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