"The next weekend we had a terrific storm. The sort of storm where the wind grabbed the cedar tree right outside the kitchen window and bent it over like a croquet wicket."
Onions In The Stew by Betty MacDonald
As news comes in about Hurricane Matthew on the east coast I recall our own challenging island weather. My Canadian daughter-in-law laughed at the island response to snow. She compared the 30 degrees below where she grew up to our balmy 40 degree winters. While it is true that rain is the most common weather condition here, sometimes a convergence zone brings us life stopping SNOW.
Snow is a test. We have no snow equipment so removal is laborious. My husband worked for hours shoveling the small hill of our driveway only to have the one snowplow come by and fill the path. I watched his crestfallen face. He didn't get to work until 9:00 and work is 10 minutes away. He could have walked in that time.
The big issue is losing power. Branches come careening down to the ground as the heavy snow sits on them like an elephant on a tuffet. As soon as the lights start to flicker we jump into action. Fill the wheelbarrow with wood, find the candles, hang heavy blankets over the doorways to the kitchen and upstairs to make a warm area of the living room and bedroom. Check the pipes outside to make sure the insulation is in tact.
Locate the kerosene lanterns and fill them because the power is likely to be off for days. The longest power outage we have experienced was four days. It seems small to write this but for those four days everything stopped. No school, no work for me, and my husband needed extra time to get to his job and extra time to get back. At day three we were all are going crazy so we put on layers, boots, hats and scarves and to walked to town. The local grocery store is the hub of the island. Gossip filtered around the store about who went off the road and who got stranded off island. The coffee stand line circled around several times and then spilled out the door.
Several hours later we trudged home, tired and ready to make dinner on the wood stove. In the evening we played the piano and read by candlelight. It sounds idyllic in words but it is truly exhausting. When the electric truck appeared down the road we whooped and hollered with joy. The test of bad weather is definitely how much resilience we have to sudden change and whether our sense of humor rises to meet the circumstances that are truly extraordinary.
I am writing for 31 days this October about Island Life. Click here to see the other days of writing.