I’m sitting here, now that I’ve made all the preparations I can think of, waiting for the arrival of Hurricane Irene. I’ve lived through other East Coast hurricanes but not in the era of 24-hour news shows and web coverage. So although this one seems worse than most, the sense of impending doom is much greater than in the past, when we simply knew “it would get here.” In fact, my first memories of a New York hurricane have almost nothing to do with the hurricane itself. When Hurricane Hazel hit back in 1955, I spent the night with my grandparents. I was only 7 or 8, but I remember it being very dark and rainy, with windows rattling. The image that has stayed with me was my midnight trip to the bathroom, when I saw a small, pink, cylindrical container on the sink. Not satisfied to leave well enough alone, I opened it to find my grandfather’s teeth—and I was so scared that I ran back to bed and hid under the covers. And I never mentioned this to anyone, until years later, well into adulthood, when I confided it to my mother.
The constant coverage of Hurricane Irene, along with clips of winds damaging houses and trees falling on roads and cars (along with the specter of the far more powerful Katrina), has gotten me spooked a bit. My house is on a hill, and although I’m not looking forward to the predicted 10 to 12 inches of rain, I should experience little flood damage. But the winds could cause havoc because of the many tall trees. We removed some dying locust trees like these:
but my next-door neighbor has not. Now when I wake up at night, I think of the damage those downed trees can cause, and the forthcoming days with no power. It takes a lot less than 50- or 60-mph winds to knock out our power, and restoring it to such a huge area after Irene will take time.
So for now, I seem to be obsessing about the damage I can imagine—and it too is about as serious in the scheme of things as my grandfather’s dentures. My poor garden, which I’ve coaxed and nurtured since the spring, may succumb to the wind and rain. It is ironic that this is happening just as my tomatoes are ripening en masse.
I’ve picked all I can, even the not really ready ones, because I think those may be all I get.
The growing season was a challenge. Cucumber beetles destroyed my cucumbers and most summer squash. Only one yellow squash continued valiantly to bear, and to give us a small but regular supply, despite its powdery mildew affliction. But I think the squash I picked this morning will be the last.
The 100° heat at the end of July caused my broccoli to turn yellow before the heads got very big, but the side shoots that are still coming have been quite delicious. I have new broccoli transplants ready to go in, but the last few weekends have been too rainy. The July heat also delayed my peppers and eggplant, but we did get beautiful peppers after all, as well as beans and more beans. It has been a great bean year.
Before that really hot week, we enjoyed our Chiogga beets and the greens
and picked a great crop of onions.
If the hurricane damage is not as bad as I fear, I’ll be planting that fall broccoli, chard, and lettuce. And the carrots that are looking good, but not ready yet, should get us through September. And this might be the first year I get successful Brussels sprouts.
So for now, I’ve got my fingers crossed that I’ll make it through, and it is time to check again (for the hundredth time) to see if there’s a change in the computer model that has the storm going directly over my patch of the world.