Saturday, December 13, 2008


On the weather map a purple fist trailing white entangled isobars hovered over New England. Memories of the epic icestorm of 1998 were revived. I filled big pots of water and put them on the stove, made sure we had candles and firewood. We hunkered down and listened for the blast which was supposed to arrive here late morning.

There was a restlessness in the house similar to what I have felt before fierce thunderstorms in the summer. The animals were pacing and so was I. From the windows that look out over the Reach, I saw a skiff on the eerily calm water by the island and thought what in the world? An impossible day to be out on the water in a small boat...the sky was a pall of gray, crows bawled from the trees on the island and all around the house branches and grass were crackling and creaking with ice. Then I heard the report of a gun and saw the upward rush of hunters. I watched the small boat as it turned and maneuvered around the little bay, watched the water wrinkle with the first gust of wind, watched the boat swerve and head for shore in a frill of spray.

Soon the weather was upon us, hurling gusts at the house. I went to the door, opening it to let in a sodden dog, and was surprised by the sudden strength of the wind and the warmth! I looked at the thermometer on the kitchen window - 58 degrees. The warmth saved us. Soon I heard the plash of melting from every corner of the roof. The grass sprang upward spraying moisture, the fir trees lost their polish of frost and chickadees swung down to the feeder.

All day the wind blew and whistled. We lost our phone service briefly; briefly the lights flickered and dimmed, but we came out of the tempest intact.

Catching up with neighbors after dinner I learned that one had lost an elderly father and another had just heard that her son, about whom she had been worrying on his drive back to Boston, had arrived safely. Departures and arrivals - I connected with our faraway children and the world clicked back into balance.

Later, I threw apples out for the deer and nearly took a header down the back steps. Frozen again. A glance at the temperature confirmed that we were back in winter...22 and, probably, falling.

Today is bright and sunny - and cold. The snowless garden looks bereft, but soon the flakes will fall, the ice will form crystal daggers along the eaves and we will move cautiously into winter. There will be more weather-related alarms and we'll go to stations as usual. And then the spring will come.