As I write this, on Sunday evening, we have power and it has not started raining in Morris Plains. I've no doubt this will soon change.
I am waiting for Sandy, the hurricane coming up the east coast, the one expected to take a sharp left to hit New Jersey instead of the sharp right hurricanes usually take in these situations. The storm is massive, its effects being felt from the Carolinas to Greenland.
My husband and I have been prepared for days. We have the batteries and the flashlights. We have the nonperishable food and the manual can opener. We have the containers of water.
We have pulled leaves from the gutters as fast as the wind blows more down. Most reluctantly, I have been taking in the bird feeders. Tomorrow, the birds are on their own.
Earlier, as I sat on my enclosed porch to watch the late afternoon fade, I heard leaf blowers. I have lived in the suburbs for nearly two decades and I am still amazed at the behavior of some of my neighbors. Blowing leaves to the curb in a gale. Watering lawns or plants (that should really be taken inside) ahead of an expected two to four inches of rain. Leaving your kid's bike leaning against the garage.
MH and I have done as much as we can. Now, we are waiting and I am restless. That is the worst. I'd like to get this over with. The storm is still at least a day away and there is only so much news on it you can watch.
I took myself out to walk around the block. It is ironic the foliage is at peak. If we hadn't had four days of clouds you'd be able to see the intense reds, yellows, browns and pinks more vividly against the blue sky. So I walked and admired the colors even as the wind blew the leaves down.
A flutter to my right. A small dark bird flicking its tail while sitting in a small tree. A phoebe!
Phoebes are among the first northbound migrants into our area in spring and usually among the first to leave. Yet, here is this little flycatcher. It must've made a late start south, or perhaps the weather has been so mild it had no desire to leave.
You can feel sorry for the bird. It will have to find a safe place to hunker down during the wind and rain before it can travel on, which it must do if it wants to find food before winter (phoebes don't come to feeders).
At the same time, a phoebe doesn't have to worry about losing power, not being able to work (and earn the money to pay bills), possibly losing a lot of food in the freezer or having a tree come down on its house. When the storm is over, the bird can pick up and leave. We on the ground will be cleaning up for much longer, possibly without power for many days - something it scares me to think about.
Over 700 people died during the 1938 hurricane that hit this region because they had no warning a monster storm was coming their way. In 2012 we have the Weather Channel, over-the-air news, cable news, Twitter and other ways of getting the word out about Hurricane Sandy.
Does all that information make people smarter? Only if they want to know. Many do not. Whether they live in lower Manhattan or along the Jersey Shore, they think they can ride it out. The forecasts are always wrong, they say.
I've never been faced with evacuation but I have been faced with rough, rising water and it isn't something I want to ever face again. You can't be complacent when you're dealing with water.
I hope the forecasters do turn out to be wrong. I really do. I also hope I'm prepared enough if they are right. I just wish the darned thing was over with.