30 August 2011

Shipwreck

We were supposed to go to a pig roast on Saturday. I’d taken Friday off of work, and in the middle of the day, after carrying in the outdoor furniture and shuffling the potted plants, we headed north, to the Catskills. In retrospect, it was kind of crazy.

On the way up, we stopped at the butcher to buy a steak for dinner, and ran into the pig roast crew buying the pig. Once we got to where we were going, the seven year old went “swimming” in the stream, if you can call paddling around in knee-deep water “swimming”, and then soaked in the hot tub. Later, we visited the scene of the impending pig roast, and helped them stoke the fire in the pit, and had a lovely summer grilled-steak-and-buttered-corn dinner with my father. And the next morning, we decided that we’d be better off (meaning, more adult) riding out the hurricane at our own house, and so left my father’s place and his whole house generator. No pig for us; it was still buried in its pit in the ground.

It rained on and off all the way home, where we finished our hurricane prep with a quick trip to the supermarket - the shelves were stripped of bread and Cheez Doodles. Just in case, we ground some coffee beans and filled the French press – knowing we’d be able to boil water if need be. Saturday evening, we hunkered down and played Monopoly, the girl and I ganging up on Daddy, a bit anyway, complete with dramatic crocodile tears every time she had to pay rent and demented cackling when her hotels bore fruit. Eventually, the girl and I, together with the cats, went to bed, and fell asleep to the heavy spatter of raindrops on the metal cover of the air conditioner. Daddy stayed downstairs, glued to the TV where Irene was making her way north.

At five, we woke up. Crash. Power out. Boil water. Make coffee in the French press – yes, I win at hurricane prep! Pull the generator out of the cellar. Rig up a blue tarp under the deck to keep the rain off the genny, which decides not to start. Cursing and moaning, my husband field strips its carburetor – there’s a reason to keep him, huh? Finally gets it started, and we run some extension cords – to the two fridges, to a light in the kitchen, to the computer router - yes, wifi!

After awhile, we ventured out. Trees down across our street, taking the power line with them. Trees down up the street. We checked on various neighbors – one’s house had a huge elm down and draped over the roof, and them not even on the East Coast. We invited people to a shipwreck party – wine at four. Later, chainsaws. Again, a scouting expedition – it turned out to be not an official crew, but a ragtag batch of good samaritans bearing handsaws and chainsaws and rakes and shovels – clearing away enough to let cars through, smartly avoiding the downed wires.

My husband suggests we feed everyone bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches. That seems complicatedly messy to me so I propose a BLT panzanella, like a chopped BLT. He fries the bacon, chops the tomatoes, tears up some basil and makes the bread into croutons, fried in the bacon fat. I make a potato salad, a cucumber salad, a green salad. We feed the neighbors red wine and salads, and it’s well after dark when they all go home.

Monday dawns bright and pretty – and all in all, things near home are fine – we’re safe, no one’s hurt, life’s more or less back to normal on Tuesday.

But upstate? They didn’t fare so well in the Catskills. The pig was delicious; the aftermath, not so much. Roads out, bridges out, mudslides, rock slides. One friend broke her ankle in two places – and they couldn’t get her to the hospital; she was finally helicoptered out on Monday. The friends who had the pig roast weren’t able to leave until today. Rumor is that the power may not be restored for a month – my father’s generator will be out of fuel long before then. If someone tells you Irene was a poor excuse for a hurricane, direct them to Greene County – devastated.

16 comments:

Mental P Mama said...

They can come up and look at Connecticut, too. What a disaster. So glad you all are ok. And I want to get shipwrecked at your house next time.

susan said...

Vermont, too (as I know you know). At one point since Irene the Times was running the headline "Vermont Avoids Worst" while Burlington's paper correctly noted "Vermont Devastation Widespread."

Lady M said...

Glad you are ok. I was thisclose to flying out east this week, which wouldn't have been the smartest thing.

She Curmudgeon said...

All of these hurricane pooh-poohers are sangfroid fools. It was a real, serious storm, even if the people's overreaction in my area in the aftermath with their dismayed and entitled cries of "Oh no, I can't charge my computer/iPod/cell phone!!!" is completely out of proportion. Glad you and yours weathered the storm in inimitable Magpie style. BLT Panzanella's a new classic, for sure.

painted maypole said...

when you're in eye of any storm (or it's outer edges, good side or bad, or the aftermath or... you get my drift) it's hard. Irene could have caused a lot more damage, and it's OK to be grateful that she didn't. But that doesn't mean we can overlook the damage she DID cause.

Glad you three are safe and well fed. :)

liz said...

My sister (who lives in Vermont) has a friend whose home was washed away. Their town is...under water. It's just under water.

mayberry said...

We were camping this weekend and so intentionally without power and cooking over a fire ... surreal! Glad you came through Irene so well.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I want to be your neighbor.

Bibliomama said...

You are such awesomeness. I don't think there is such a thing as being overprepared for a hurricane.

Janet said...

Glad you're safe, but sorry to hear about your Dad's area.

Kim McGalliard said...

Glad to hear your Dad's place is OK. We got invited to a hurricane party on Monday night before we left on Tuesday - someone emptying out their 'fridge before they left the valley. The infrastructure damage there is stunning, but everyone is helping each other and taking care.

Definitely try the beet pie. It's become a favorite with friends.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

What a story.

I am dying to tell Michele Bachmann that I think Irene was a message from God that we need government.

Glad you're okay!

flutter said...

panzanella ala Irene. coming to a storm near you.

Angeline said...

Hope your friend is much better now... Hope the warmth of the pig in her tummy had given her comfort while she was on the helicopter. *wink*

InTheFastLane said...

Way to make the best of that situation. And really? Are people disappointed because they needed to see mass destruction?

Big City Mom said...

BLT panzanella, sounds delicious. nice to think one good thing came from the storm.