Mother Nature has done us wrong
A week ago I was touting Mother Nature's magic in bringing the transformation from winter to spring. Forget it!
Last Saturday literally "blew" all of that magic away with one of the worst Nor'easters and deadly wind sheers I've ever experienced. This storm was the next best thing to a hurricane or mini-tornado.
Early Saturday afternoon I heard the winds begin to howl. When that happens, I always say a silent prayer for our backyard fence, which has seen better days. This time, no one heard my prayer and as I rushed out in the storm to reinforce the slats with some thin rope, the wind blew down three panels before my eyes.
I quickly moved to another swaying panel just in time to keep it from falling, but as I surveyed the damage with the wind slapping the rain in my face, I saw other areas where slats had been blown down and wood poles were listing.
As I walked onto my back porch, the wind literally lifted our chimney grate off and sent the unit airborne, mercifully allowing it to drop into the backyard. I'm just glad I was already inside. It could have landed on me.
That entire scenario was a comedy of errors, since potential buyers of our home were doing a walk through -- they'd surprised us by arriving early, catching my wife laying dish towels across our bow window, which, by the way, never leaks, but decided to on Saturday. Twenty minutes after they left, there was flash of light and the power was gone.
This storm was like some sick joke Mother Nature decided to play on us. Once the power went, we figured the lights would be back on in a matter of hours. And sure enough, at 7 p.m., they came on, we cheered and 40 seconds later, they were gone. And that was the end of the power until 7 p.m. Monday evening. We've never been out that long.
On Sunday morning, after our handyman surveyed the fence damage and went off to create his estimate, I manually opened the garage door and received a sneak preview of what Mother Nature had wrought throughout Fairfield County and beyond. At that point, I had no idea how many trees had been torn out by the winds,
But when I went out for coffee, the yellow police banners and huge, mangled trees said it all. Some trees literally lay across electric power lines and phone wires. Others had crashed down across streets, blocking passage. I remembered Hurricane Gloria, I believe, back in 1985. That's what these scenes resembled.
The winds had cut a swath of destruction throughout Fairfield. I knew my lights weren't coming on quickly. And there was still a steady, pelting rain.
Since I had a pile of work to do for the coming week, I grabbed my briefcase and drove over to the Fairfield Library, witnessing more damage. This time, I saw what seemed like hundreds of trees, some fallen on houses, others cracked at their bases and hanging like ghoulish shadows and so many others already chopped up for next year's firewood.
The library, while ordinarily busy, was mobbed. I was lucky enough to grab an express computer, find a plug for my cell phone charger and get to work. When that time ran out, I crossed the street and went to Kinko's for another two hours to complete other work. Most of the conversations I overheard involved laments like mine -- no idea when power would be restored, pining for a hot shower and hoping freezers would hold. I was starting to feel very grungy and decided I would use my gym for a hot shower.
That didn't happen until the next day and not until much later. My Monday was too packed with work and errands, but I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror when I stopped by a client's office and mumbled, "Now I know what it's like to be at the mercy of the power company. I looked like some homeless person with much more than an acceptable amount of stubble."
Meanwhile, every time I called United Illuminating, I couldn't get a straight answer about when the lights would be on. I knew there was severe damage from trees up toward the Brooklawn Country Club, near where we live, but I had no idea how bad it was until my wife came back from a walk with her friend and said she'd seen trees that had fallen across streets and onto houses.
By Monday afternoon, I learned that places like New Canaan and Westport might be out of power for days and downed trees and power lines made them look like a war zone. A lot of our friends in other areas had severe basement flooding and we knew that falling tree limbs had killed a number of innocent bystanders. I couldn't even imagine the heartache those families were experiencing from the wrath of Mother Nature.
And I really empathized with folks in New Jersey, who were pummeled by late winter snowstorms just weeks ago and now faced flooding on top of that disaster. Staten Island was also hit hard by this storm. The sick joke just kept being retold.
By 5 on Monday when I left for the gym to work out my stress and take a hot shower, my wife and I were both feeling the strain. We were cold and frustrated, not knowing how long this would continue.
When I felt the hot water from the shower at the gym after my workout, it was pure heaven, not to forget the feeling of that nice, sharp razor taking away two days of stubble. I completely understood what people experience when they are denied the opportunity to be clean. Now, I've been there.
But there was nothing like the sheer joy of rounding the corner about 7:15 and seeing the house bathed in soft lights. Dressed in her multiple layers of clothing, my wife greeted me with a big hug and said, "It's still going to be a few hours before this place is warm, but the worst is over."
"For us," I said. "But I really feel for all the others around here and the tri-state area, who are still without power. This storm was a real killer. Worse than anything we've ever experienced. I know I should feel better, but I don't just yet. I guess I'm waiting for an apology from Mother Nature, but that's not coming anytime soon, I'm afraid."
Steven Gaynes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.