OT: Surviving Alfred

I understand, as I always do, that November is National Adoption Awareness month. For the record, I am boycotting it. I refuse to write a single thing this month that has to do with adoption, family preservation, my trauma or my reunion.  Rather, I am going to be all counter blog topic on you and write about personal – non adoption related – topics, matters, items of interest. Doing so will not only help me think about things other than adoption but support my current goal of finishing Julie Cameron’s ”The Artist Way”. Without putting too much pressure on myself, my hope is that my morning words can be used as prompts for blog posts.  

The first topic is aptly titled Surviving Alfred.

Partying with my sister the night before Alfred arrived.

Winter Storm Alfred touched down in my area of New England late in the day this past Saturday. I was mildly hung over having spent the previous night celebrating my baby sisters 40th birthday. My sons were spending the weekend with their father so my husband and I took our time to wake and prepare for the day.  We did little to nothing to prepare for the arrival of Alfred. Having grown up in New England, combined with living in Chicago for nearly six years, I don’t get rattled much by hurricanes or Nor’easters.  We made a run to the local market for a few food items, some red box movies and settled in for the night. We had no idea how much settling we would do.

It is highly unusual for us to have a winter storm so early in the season, at a time when the last leaves had not yet fallen from the trees. Those leaves, coupled with the falling snow, proved to be a disastrous partnering.  The acre of land my house is situated on is surrounded by many trees, several very mature and rare.  I have been very fond of our weeping cherry and our Japanese maple.  Trees I am less fond of include the near eighty foot tall pines, five of which stand in front of our home.  Throughout the night, I watched each one of these trees die a complete or partial death at the hands of Alfred.

The red maple, still full with her bounty of red spiky leaves was the first victim.  As the snow accumulated, the leaves and the branches that supported them sunk lower and lower to the ground. Sometime later in the evening the branches began to snap.  I rushed to the porch to watch the first limbs crack and fall onto our in ground pool filter. A tear rolled down  my eye as I reflected on the many times my son, age 8 and stepson, age 20, climbed that tree together. I was reminded of the many families’ parties we have at the pool and the shade that tree provided.  I thought of the first fall in our home where I raked a pile of red crunchy leaves while my sons ran and jumped in them.  My last thought as I returned to the warmth of my kitchen involved questioning how we would remove the many branches from the driveway it now blocked.

The Red Maple Under Seige

The night passed slowly.  My husband and I were both unable to sleep. The whiteout snow conditions coupled with the constant sound of falling trees and creaking branches, crying for mercy under the siege of the snow, prevented our slumber. I feared for the roof of our home considering the height of the towering green pines in the front yard. Earlier in the evening I had been eyeing one particular bough that hung very low and with each gust of wind sunk closer and closer to our power lines.

Morning did arrive and I found myself rolling over in bed and being surprised that I had actually slept a few hours and more so that my husband rested beside me in bed.   I rolled towards him and snuggled into his arm as I whispered “I am going to get dressed and go survey the property damage.” He asked me to wait a few minutes and told me he would join me.

While I had accepted the loss of the maple the night before, I found it so very hard to find similar acceptance over the loss of most of our weeping cherry, a tree that blossomed like a young girl on prom night, every spring.  My throat constricted as I forged through the eighteen inches of snow Alfred had deposited on our property.  I found myself thankful that one large branching section had been spared.  While it looked strange now, with its sister section gone, I mused over bird houses or other garden ornaments I might position in the tree to balance the esthetics of it.

An exclamation of shock followed by a few expletives erupted from our driveway.  My husband had encountered the source of that awful noise that ripped through our home at two in the morning. – the pine bough I had been watching the night before.  Now fully amputated from its still standing base, the bough had broken, flipped over, tore our power lines and casing from our home, and deposited itself on the farthest part of our lawn, close to the street.  As I walked towards my husband, I was struck by how diminutive he appeared next to the monstrous branch.

Pine Bough That Took The Lines

We walked together up the street to survey our neighborhood. It resembled a war zone. Nearly every home had trees down, many with them resting on roofs.  I said a silent thank you to the storm gods for sparing us that experience.  Several neighbors were out shoveling their driveways and we stopped to compare notes.

Sherry and Rob were not prepared for the extent of damage.  They had lost power and had no firewood for the fireplace.  Rob had purchased a cord a few weeks back but against Sherry’s urging, he had not yet split the logs. He told her it was too early.  My husband told him he was welcome to come to our garage and take what he needed. We had plenty of split wood.

In front of Rob and Sherry’s house we found a tangled mess of what were formerly their power and cable tv lines.  During the snow storm, they had fallen due to a gust of wind and a large branch. A passing snow plow failed to see the downed lines and drove over them pulling them and all attached to them farther down the road into a tangle mess. I tried to imagine the facial expression of the plow driver once he had realized what he had done.

Another neighbor, out for her morning jog (?), stopped to chat with us and shared news of the homes up the hill at the other end of the street. It was bad, really bad.  The storm had passed, the sun was shining but it would take us days to recover.

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It is now nearly a week since the storm.  We have had no power, no heat or hot water since that time.  On Wednesday of this week, our electrician repaired the power lines (still dead) and hooked us up with a 2000 watt generator.  The generator has given us limited power. I am at least able to shower and tend to my colorful mane of hair, my greatest vanity.

It is rumored that our town will have power fully restored by Sunday night.  I am not optimistic. While we have had many out-of-state crews join the effort, the level of devastation is no match for them.  The trees need to be removed from the streets and homes before the power crews can arrive to do their work. At last count we had eighteen crews in our town.

The Weeping Cherry Pre Winter Storm Alfred

It is at this time in the restoration that people either become batty and irritable due to the lack of juice powering their iPod, computer or Xbox 360 or they become hopeful and thankful for all they have been spared, all they have been helped with.   I am admittedly vacillating somewhere between both places. I am trying my best to keep a positive outlook.  I am here for my sons, helping them through a week lost of school, disrupted diets and sleeping schedules. I am trying to help my husband with the house, the power issues, the starting of fires in the fireplace, planning meals when you have no refrigeration and no heat to cook with it.. I am pumping myself up and telling myself how lucky I am that I can take a hot shower and blow dry the messy pile of red and black strands on my head.  I am trying. Like the surviving trees left in the wake of the storm, I am doing my best to recover.

8 Thoughts.

  1. I’m so sorry Suz! We lost our power for a bit. We have an electric stove and a well, so we didn’t even have running water. Which meant we had to go out somewhere else to use the bathroom. But we got ours back pretty quickly and things were ok. Cable, Internet, and Phone was a different story but those are back at this point too. I’m sorry the crews haven’t gotten to you yet. Like you said, it’s a good thing you were spared the trees on the roof.

    I have a feeling it’s going to be a long winter….

  2. I knew the storm was going to be bad when they kept hyping 1-2 days before to be ‘prepared for extended power outages’…I was like, ‘oh no NOT again’ after Irene left us without power for three days a few months ago.
    Only this has been so MUCH worse due to temps being colder, the outage being much longer(and still going on)…
    To context this, for October our biggest storm EVER was 1.5″, we received 12-20+” state wide, parts of Massachusetts has 30+ inches, INSANE!!!
    I think it was 1’ish AM on Sunday morning that I bolted out of bed hearing a rather unsettling sorta crashing noise from outside our bedroom, that was the power pole being ripped off the side of the house thanks to the pine tree branch that squashed the power line.
    Panic mode set in for me on Tuesday with calls to 10+ electricians and no calls back, you can’t get power back till you fix the power lines going to your house, thank the electrical gods for Adam, not only answering but coming out on Wednesday, fixing the pole/wires AND inquiring, ‘hey I have an extra generator if you’re interested’, I tried not to drool too much. So here I sit on a rather nice late Friday afternoon, I here the generator humming, we have heat and hot water and limited electrical, we have internet but no cable TV, life goes on but I’m SO READY for this to be over and ‘normal life’ to resume, emotionally and mentally I’m wiped out.
    I told Suz early on, ‘other than my sons there’s nobody on earth I’d want to have to be in going through something as grueling as this’, so baby thanks as always for taking this wild ride called life with me & hoping we have power VERY soon.

  3. Jenn, following up on your ‘it is going to be a long winter’, a lot of people have said that, ironically enough with the RECORD snow we had last year I don’t recall losing power once oddly enough, this year the leaves still being on the trees was the culprit as it’s caused so many downed trees/limbs, so old man Winter can come on in cause after Irene and Alfred he’s just so one more SOB to deal with, : (

  4. Doesn’t it make you crazy when you walk into a room and not even realizing it you are hitting the light switch only to realize for the billionth time that you have no electricity so of course there are no lights!!

    It’s so sad that your area has lost so many trees. I still miss the big trees we lost in an ice storm many years ago.

    Have fun finding things to do while in the dark! *wink wink*

  5. I’m sorry that you guys are going through all this. Just when you think you are in control of things, Mother Nature comes along to remind you who is really in charge. Glad you all are safe and unharmed.

    BTW, you have an open invitation to visit the west coast this winter. You know, the land where people wear hats, gloves, scarves and down coats when it is a bitter 40 degrees 🙂

  6. I was in a group that worked its way through the Artist’s Way I found it very helpful and sometimes spookily exactly what I needed to think about/hear at the time.

    We did collages one week. when I completed mine It became clear to me I had burning desire to go to France. We had a great trip!

  7. Update folks, WE SURVIVED!!! Finally got power back around noon yesterday, WOW, what a relief, no more generator, it was a rough eight days, but feelings of ‘normalcy’ are returning.

  8. I’ve never heard of that book before, I just checked it out an Amazon – it looks really interesting. Maybe you can do a post about that when you finish it. And congratulations on the boycott!

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