Dark and Light

The gym opened its doors to a stream of friends and family of members, refugees from the storm’s aftermath, and I waited in a line of ladies for the showers. Hot water! Bright lights! Still no electricity at the Cabin, not since Monday night. We combed the shelves of various supermarkets yesterday for more bottled water and candles (ended up settling for stubby shabbat candles and the tall votive ones  I think of as voodoo candles – everything else was gone), then waited in a line for gas, all of us filling jugs for the generator.

The big downed trees now lay off the side of the roads, but plenty of streets are still cordoned off and you have to be creative to get to your destination.

Our plumbing, run by electricity, is kaput, so the toilets smell like a latrine, but we can spare precious water once in a while to flush by pouring into the tank. Gil has rediscovered the old, leaning outhouse. We’re eating sandwiches off paper plates, but the fridge is on the generator so we have cold beer. The tv’s powered by the generator too, so we can compare our petty inconveniences with the real disasters out there. The generator can’t get everything going; choices must be made. And lights and water are too big burdens on the system. Instead we have News 4 and Halloween flicks – last night The Thing with Kurt Russell. It was 40 below in Antarctica when the slimy monster attacked, and 42 in our living room even with a roaring fire.

This is the picture to go with my post yesterday about the sinking of the Bounty.

Sinking of the Bounty

Mother Nature laid a cruel hand on the Jersey shore, where people went for years thinking they were just so lucky to have sunny, gentle beachfront property. And when I look at the aerial view of Manhattan – half dark – impossible! We can’t reach downtown friends there by phone or online. I keep thinking of that shocking shot in The Day After Tomorrow when a Russian ship sails into midtown Manhattan, the waters of New York Bay having overflowed. There could never be water in the streets of Manhattan!

Tonight I’ll speak in a clean, well-lighted place, the public library in Dobbs Ferry. I’ll talk about a time long ago, when people ate their dinner by candlelight and trundled off to bed in the pitch dark, when sturdy ships went down as if they were fragile toy boats, when disasters regularly occurred and there was no FEMA to the rescue. Imagine Blandine van Couvering taking her sloop up the Hudson on a moonless voyage at just this time of year, how her enthusiasm for her adventure warmed her and lit up the night, much, much brighter than any iphone flashlight app.

1 Comment

Filed under Home, Jean Zimmerman, Nature

One response to “Dark and Light

  1. Lori

    It may be true that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, but your prose puts a real feeling to what it’s like to be just on the outskirts of disaster. I live in the Pacific Northwest, in Vancouver just north of Portland, Oregon, and we have your usual share of natural disasters here. To that end a lot of us always have long term storage food, enough for a month, and a store of fresh water as well as candles and so forth. Nonetheless, nobody can do anything to stop the sea if it decides to take a stroll and see the sights inland.
    I had not seen that picture of the Bounty. I love good tall sailing ships, and it’s sad to see her go down.
    I am a Naval Vet who actually learned to sail and kayak. I know what it’s like to be canoeing on a dark bay with no lights. It’s a humbling experience. We people are very small, almost helpless in comparison to a healthy natural disaster. It makes us remember just what this earth can do if she gets riled up.

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