Hello again from Sarah Graves, writing to you from Eastport, Maine. If you’re reading this on Monday, we got the power back. It went off Saturday morning after a night of wild wind and heavy rain called Hurricane Arthur. Eastport has a generator for emergencies but as of Saturday afternoon it hasn’t kicked in. Maybe the large number of trees and big limbs down is complicating the situation, or maybe the darned thing just won’t start.
We don’t know, and we don’t know how long we’ll be out of power, either, which right now is the most uncomfortable part of it for us; the not knowing, I mean. We’re not cold or hungry, and we’re on city water, so our basics are covered. Batteries and candles are on hand, as are plenty of flashlights, and for now I have a decent battery life left on the laptop that I’m using to write this.
And we don’t have a houseful of Fourth of July visitors, as many around us do. Two people like us managing to feed themselves out of a stocked pantry is one thing; the whole extended family sitting around the kitchen table, wanting hot showers, drinking cold coffee or lukewarm milk, and wondering aloud what to do with themselves for a whole day indoors is another, especially if kids are involved. No TV or internet access plus storm-driven rain outside is not a recipe for family happiness, particularly after the beer runs out.
The Fourth itself was as usual a whiz-bang affair, a bright, warm day and blue sky making the day perfect for a parade and for most of the rest of the traditional activities. There were rides and arcade games, cotton candy and fried dough, a pet show, and a chainsaw-sculpture demonstration. We had the greasy-pole contest (you scamper out onto it to grab a flag, or if not, you fall into the harbor), and the haddock relay race (you carry it in your teeth). Silly string, bomb bags, and more personal fireworks than I personally needed to hear added to the festivities, as did lots of walking around downtown gawking at each other. But there was a sneaky breeze snapping the flags even while I signed books in front of Wadworth’s in the early afternoon, the sky had that creamy look that it gets when it’s brewing something nasty up behind your back, and by evening the fireworks were cancelled due to rain.
Which it did all night, hard, so that when I peeked out at the streaming street at 2 AM the raindrops were hitting the pavement like bullets. In the morning, the worst was most definitely not over. I had to take the dog out, so I put on my yellow slicker and black sou’wester and ventured into the yard, then into a puddle that went up to my ankle. The gale was still blowing so I was forced to lean forward to walk, and it had been blowing for a long time; the peas are all knocked over, cabbage and broccoli leaning every which way, the baby beets and carrots look stepped-on, and if the tomatoes survive after the battering they took, I’ll be amazed.
And over it all, the wind went on howling and shrieking and snapping off big branches, or if it couldn’t do that then it just went ahead and uprooted the whole tree; seriously, it’s a mess.
While we were out surveying the damage, though, we came upon our neighbor David, up to his thighs in wet weeds in the yard of an abandoned house. When we got nearer we saw that he was picking peonies from the border some long-gone someone had planted years ago, the big pink blooms rain-drenched but somehow unruined. With debris still practically sailing through the sky I thought it was a funny time to be out picking flowers, but David explained with a smile that he wanted them for the altar at church, tomorrow. “And isn’t this amazing?” he added, gazing around in wonder.
Which made me stop and give myself a mental shake, because David was right. Big weather really is pretty awe-inspiring, isn’t it? Also, the power probably will go back on sooner or later, and even though I can’t see the radar I have to assume that the storm is moving along to the northeast just as it was when I did last observed it. Any minute the sky will clear, tropical-storm-force winds will subside, and we’ll hear birds. And chainsaws. And if you’re reading this on Monday, they did and we are.