Night of August 11, 2016, written by the light of a nouveau hurricane lamp because the power is out. And again demonstrating the benefits of writing with pen and ink.
Sounds: formerly neighbors’ generators but I’m far enough from the window so I can’t hear them. Now it’s buzz-saw loud peepers, tree frogs, and crickets. Someone said that racket is the last desperation before cold sets in. Tonight feels like the tropics, so I doubt it.
This epic began when I was driving to the veterans’ writing workshop. To be ecologically correct I should walk because it’s less than two miles, but I’m usually lugging stuff and often have to stop at the supermarket afterward. Plus there are places without decent streetlights and others with no sidewalk or shoulder on the road.
An impressive lightning show filled the sky to the north, almost as dramatic as what I saw in the mountains coming home from Ithaca. Umbrella? Check.
Occasional flashes of light and rumbles continued. The visibility dropped so that it was dark well before sunset. The rain pounded and then started blowing sideways.
About twenty minutes into the workshop, there was a flash/boom that filled the room. I jumped and thought about my mother who at the first hint of a T-storm got in bed with the covers over her head. She said her mother used to hide in a closet. Guess I didn’t inherit the worst of astraphobia.
One of the guys in the workshop had a flash flood alert on his phone – no big deal, I thought.
The library closed, but the storm continued. We lingered, first in the lobby, then under the portico outside. I put up my umbrella but the rain snuck in first from the north, then from the south. We could see the lightning moving off to the east, but the storm refused to abate.
A few people tried and failed to leap over the small lake that had formed by the sidewalk as they jumped into a waiting car.
A fire truck roared up Washington Street, siren blaring. Another followed some time later.
Two of the guys who had been in Vietnam agreed that it was just like a monsoon with thunder and lightning added. I was reminded of the storm Larry and I encountered when we visited Abbeville, Louisiana. This one felt just as bad, and it lasted much longer.
After about twenty minutes, I decided to run for it. The wind made it tough to walk with the umbrella, and by the time I arrived at the car, after about a minute, I was soaked, knees to feet. The pants are still wet this a.m.
On the way, a guy yelled from his car, “Where’s College Street?” I didn’t break stride as I yelled, “One block back.” Did not try to tell him that he couldn’t go west because it’s one way.
I wrestled the umbrella into submission but not before the rest of me got soaked.
The traffic light at a major intersection had failed, but drivers behaved. I turned off the main road and saw cars ahead sending up plumes of water. The sedans weren’t doing well so I turned into the parking lot at the hardware store and called Larry to pick me up in the Jeep. He said the power was out. I had a front row seat to the idiocy of humanity. People insisted on plowing through the water. They sent up gushers. The wake from the tires and undercarriages sloshed into the parking lot.
While it was quiet – no cars, I saw white caps. They rolled across a city street, one after another. That was a first – and I hope a last.
A police officer in a big SUV showed up and blocked the road. Idiocy multiplied as I watched a driver in a little sedan try to pull around the SUV. The cop nosed his vehicle up. The driver stayed put. This went on for probably a minute before the car turned around and drove away.
The storm finally moved off, and I made my way home, forty minutes later. Never has two miles taken so long. I was freezing and even though the house was 81 degrees, it took hours for me to warm up. Then it started raining again.
Larry had called the power company, which said the power would be back on by 10 p.m. I asked, 10 p.m. which day? When I called, they said 10:30. Eversource lied. It was 3 a.m.
Oh, boy! The forecast is for “scattered showers.”