Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Part A—Sunday, 6:00ish p.m.
Parts of Ohio are feeling the remnant winds of Hurricane Ike. While the actual storm went north and dumped record rain in other states, we've got a bit of wind. The national weather service is predicting gusts up to 70 miles per hour.

I am sitting on the enclosed porch with the doors open so I can hear it all even though it’s humid and feels like somewhere in the upper 80s outside. That’s hardly the efficient way to keep a house cool, but it certainly is the more interesting way to listen to a wind storm.

It sounds a little like the waves of Lake Michigan. I grew up on it and loved sitting on the beach and watching the water crash into the sand. On an average day, the waves were close to two feet high, and on a blustery or stormy day, they could reach six feet and higher.

Those were the days you didn’t go to the beach, but you sure wanted to. I remember being a college student in Chicago, and on a particularly stormy night, news reporters were warning everyone to stay away from the lake shore because the waves were dangerously high and could easily sweep someone out if they were standing too close. I wanted so badly to walk the six or so blocks to see the waves, but no one would go with me, and it was dark and a little creepy outside. As much as I relish weather drama, I passed on that one.

In the heat of the summer when the cicadas are in the trees—my parents and grandparents called them “July flies”—the bugs start rattling in a kind of wave like that sometimes never-ending spectacle that happens in sports stadiums. A bunch in a tree to the left will start out, and the bunch in the next tree will join them, and before the neighborhood is played out, you have heard from every nasty insect capable of making noise.

This wind is the same. It starts out from my left or possibly my right, I cant really tell, and moves through all of these old trees until it hits a clearing and has nothing left to shake or disturb. If you close your eyes, it’s not unlike the sound of the waves gliding over the sandbar and hitting the beaches of Lake Michigan.

If it weren’t for the sirens wailing in town and the wind howling through the chimney behind me, I could almost convince myself I am eight years old and digging my toes into the sand with a popsicle in one hand and a plastic shovel in the other. What’s left of Hurricane Ike can’t carry me away to drown in stormy water, but it has proved strong enough to carry me away to those summer days on Johnson’s Beach. That’s not an effect the national weather service had predicted with their warnings. 70% chance of reminiscing.

Part B—Sunday, 7:30ish p.m.
I wrote the first part of this post using Microsoft Word because we lost cable and Internet, and the wind speed was nothing but interesting. That’s where I ended with the bit about the beach.

Now we have lost all power, so I’m working on battery backup on my trusty mactop. The wind speed is still interesting, but it’s also powerful enough to down trees and break patio umbrellas. I have closed the porch door and moved inside for safe keeping.

There used to be a chain of diners here called Ikes. They were frighteningly bad. Walking into an Ikes was like walking into an episode of Twin Peaks. When you opened the glass door and walked into the dining area, everyone sitting at the counter would slowly turn to look at you as they slowly lifted their coffee cups to their lips and slowly took a sip in unison. They’d keep one eye on you and one eye on the deer they had strapped to the hood of their Buick out in the parking lot.

Eventually people starting referring to these slippery diners as Yikes, It’s Ikes. I think we can start using that same phrase for this storm system that started as a cloud off the coast of Africa and has done damage all the way to Canada, the bastard.

As amazing as these wind gusts seem, they aren’t nearly as strong as the actual hurricane when it hit land. I can only imagine what that must have felt like, how you aren’t just wondering about the rotting tree in your side yard but about the state of everything you own and the safety of your family.

No more beach reminiscing for me this evening.

Part C—Monday, 8:00ish a.m.
When it started to get dark last night, I lit every candle on this floor of the house and put them each on the dining room table. If I had had a giant mirror like young Tom Edison, I would have set that up, too. We opened up the back porch again and sat out there with wine to watch the mayhem. You could hear large cracking sounds from the wooded areas over the hill as what I assume were trees giving in.

When earlier I thought the wind in the trees sounded like a happy beach wave, by this time it sounded more like a jet plane landing or taking off. At times we thought it was as loud as being on the tarmac at O’Hare, but I didn’t want to reminisce about all the hours I have been stranded there over the years waiting for delayed flights. Instead of holding a popsicle and a shovel, I would have been holding a rolled up copy of Newsweek and coffee in a cardboard cup.

The full moon rose up above the trees at the top of the hill and gave an eerie caste to the whole scene, but it wasn’t long before the clouds covered it up and took away some of the dramatic effect. I know I wasn’t directing a movie out there, but it would have made a good one—Key Largo, maybe, with Humphrey Bogart, Lionel Barrymore, and Lauren Bacall.

We checked in with Daughter No. 1 in Columbus, and she was sitting alone in a dark house with her roommate’s frightened dog. Columbus was mostly dark with few functioning street lights and only generators to keep emergency operations goings.

North near Cleveland, Eustacia was in her dorm without power but with what she thinks might be tonsillitis. Debris was all over the road, and the college was just hunkering down for the night.

Small Town hunkered down by issuing a 9:00 p.m. curfew to keep the roads clear for essential emergency personnel.

Finally, the wine bottomed out, so we went to sleep. By then the wind had sort of bottomed out, too. The power came back on sometime after 6:00 this morning here, but still no cable or Internet. Most of the schools are closed, and people responsible for removing fallen trees will be busy for days.

Yikes, It’s Ike.

Part D—Tuesday, 7:35 AM
Finally, we have functioning cable and Internet.


dive said...

"70% chance of reminiscing". Hee hee. Wonderful, Robyn!
Sounds like a doozy of a storm you had there.
I must confess I was a little concerned when I checked Small Town's newspaper online and saw the trees down and the devastation. But I least it told me why you hadn't posted.
Welcome back!

Poor Eustacia! I do hope her throat gets better soon.

Rich said...

Welcome back, Robyn.

We got a lot of that wind yesterday - even my dog didn't want to go out in it.

lynn said...

Oooooh my goodness I've been thinking about you. Glad you are okay, hope it dies down soon. Photos please.

savannah said...

glad y'all are ok, sugar! xoxo

Alifan said...

Oh Robyn we have been worried about you.. so pleased to see you safe, and love to the girls....

But I must say as usual your post is so interesting if scary, you really are a talent even in those circumstances....xxxsending hugs