If you are reading this at home, your world is a bit different from mine right now. The storm a local TV station dubbed “Alfred” in honor of the renowned director arrived in my area with all of the menace and none of the charm of any of Hitchcock’s oeuvres.
The unusual late October snow was not forecast to arrive in our area until late in the day. So when the fat flakes started flying just after noon, we should have known we were in for it. The preceding rain never showed up. The snow looked so benign. Within two hours, the temperatures dropped and the roads started to get slick. On the local highway two miles from home, a tree dropped across the roadway in the path of an SUV. No injuries, but Hitchcock was a master of using the precursor to hint at what was ahead; this storm was aptly named.
For our driveway was already blocked with good-sized branches. Even as we got out of the car, another one wrenched off the trunk of our neighbor’s front tree and fell to the ground with a rushing thud.
Hour after hour, riiiiiiiiip-crack-rushhhhhhhh-thud every few minutes. Whichever window you looked out, you’d see another one fall. It was as if the trees were disintegrating, boughs just falling off. After dark, it was unnerving.
Darling Bebe and I baked chocolate-chip cookies to pass the time.
The city plow came. It stopped three houses down, then backed down the street and left.
That was before the power went out, leaving our leafy neighborhood in complete darkness. Snowfall usually imposes a special sort of quiet outdoors. Not so on this night, which for some reason reminded me of the night Hurricane Katrina hit, when you could hear voices calling out for help in the darkness. No human voice cried out. Just riiiiiiiiip-crack-rushhhhhhhh-thud. And thunder and lightning. “Thundersnow” they call it here – but the phenomenon is rarely so prolonged.
We did try to sleep. Briefly. Then went back down to the window. Only to see the sky flash bright green as another power transformer blew up somewhere in the vicinity. When the power line caught fire and appeared to have set part of a tree next-door on fire, as well, we let the fire department know. There was something comforting about having the firefighters come check it out. They put up fire-scene tape across the street, noted the nearest pole number, and with branches falling, shouted, “The whole city looks like this. We gotta get the f*** outta here!” and they were gone as quickly as they came. What’s that they say about cold comfort?
Everything is supposed to look better in the morning.
Not so, chez Owl.
Branches littered every portion of our lot.
The butterfly bushes and my Korean hydrangea were crushed.
The patio table got a bough of its own.
Limbs dangled from wires and lines up the street like laundry left out on a windy day.
We are some of the most fortunate ones. The previous owners of our in-most-ways-cockeyed house installed a battery-back-up on the thermostat, so our gas furnace and hot water are working just fine; my stove is gas, too. We have the necessities for 25-degree nights.
Eventually, Mr. Owl and a neighbor hand-sawed through the 10-inch branches to clear the driveway. Egress, at least, though it will be days before the street is clear and we have been told it could be a week before power is restored.
DB plays with a good many non-electronic things; we do lots of pretend play and not too much TV, so the game plan has been to keep things light and make them an adventure. The whole Halloween thing is making my hair hurt, but we are looking into alternatives for that, too, as no little girl should have trick-or-treat cancelled. We are not about to take her about our temporarily unsafe neighborhood. I promise some dress-up pictures.
We are well and safe. But if you should hear anyone pooh-poohing the East Coast October snows, assure them that there are at least 1.7 million people in Connecticut right now who only wish they had electricity and the ability to make light of the storm.