He knew how to plot storms and the precautions that should be taken against them. He knew too what it was to live through a hurricane with the other people of the island and the bond that the hurricane made between all people who had been through it. He also knew that hurricanes could be so bad that nothing could live through them. He always thought, though, that if there was ever one that bad he would like to be there for it and go with the house if she went. —Hemingway, Islands in the Stream
Last night to celebrate my birthday my son took me out to a sushi bar for dinner. I flopped into bed early and slept soundly until just before first light.
From the back bedroom window the sky looked uniformly grey and opaque. I read the latest news on the impending hurricane at the Times website and studied the weather maps to see how it was tracking. It would hit the outer banks of North Carolina by mid morning.
I made myself a cup of coffee and stepped outside and looked up at the sky. The air was close and still — not a single leaf trembled.
After breakfast I set myself to clearing things off the front porch: wind chimes, candelabras, hanging flower pots, throw rugs, pillows and cushions. I dropped the porch swing down to the deck and stowed the rocking chairs upside down against it. I made several trips carting the smaller paraphernalia to the garage. Finally, I pulled down the flag and rolled it up and wedged it in between a piece of porch furniture and a throw rug.
By the time I finished up it had started to rain. I lowered the windows in the back and on the north side of the house and looked for the Coleman stove in the basement in case we lost power.
Canned goods were on sale for a dollar a piece. I bought ten cans of soup and two cans of baked beans. No sense stocking up on perishables if the power goes out, I thought.
My folks sent my birthday present up with my daughter from Pennsylvania: a hurricane lantern with a LED light. I unpacked it and leafed through the instructions: two D cells required — batteries not included.
My wife left in the car with the dog in search of batteries. I ran the dishwasher and ate a piece of carrot cake with crème cheese icing. Outside, the rains continued their steady descent.
Sometime in the middle of the night, Irene would hit the Connecticut shore.
There was little else to do now but hunker down and wait.