Waiting for Sandy

I loved a hurricane when I was a little girl.

Where we lived in rural Maine, they didn't happen too often. So, when they did, it was a special occasion, with as intricate a set of rituals as any holiday. The finding of the flashlights. The filling of the bathtub. The lighting of the candles.

One storm, after the power had gone out, my father dragged the grate off of our outdoor grill and wedged it into our fireplace. He grilled pork chops over the fire for dinner, and frozen mixed vegetables in a little tin pot. We felt like pioneers (though I still refused to eat lima beans. No natural disaster could change that.). I don’t remember that storm’s name (Gloria? Bob?), or whether we sustained any damage to our house or barn—but I can still see those pork chops vividly.

I loved the step out of the ordinary all of this represented, loved the anticipation of something dramatic enough that it required such ministrations. It never seemed ominous in these moments. It felt more like an elaborate game that the adults in our lives had finally given in to playing. We were all pretending we lived in a time before electricity, when you cooked your dinner over the fire, and used a candle to light your way upstairs for bed.

In fact, the only time I would be afraid during these storms was when I was trying to go to sleep in the attic bedroom I shared with my sister. The wind curled around the house in such a way that we’d be surrounded by its low-voiced moaning. At the height of the storm, the pitch of the voices would rise and a fall, a ghostly chorus whose song was no lullaby. I would stay awake in the small nest of my bed for hours, and listen.