Tuesday, August 30, 2011

on quiet and a storm

Thursday night after work, we packed up the car and drove to Cherry Valley to spend a long weekend with my Dad and stepmom.  Even in traffic, there was a calm inside the car.  We were getting away from the city, from noise, from the impending hurricane, from the mice.  (At the time mice and a hurricane seemed of equal annoyance.)  We arrived after midnight to my Dad coming down the driveway with a flashlight to help us unpack.  It was dark and the sky was filled with stars, we quietly made our way into the house and into bed.

I needed quiet and Cherry Valley delivers that.  But the enforced quiet on Sunday was not exactly what I had in mind.  We stayed up late Saturday night watching news reports of the hurricane turned tropical storm and brought outdoor chairs and the car into the barn.  I woke up Sunday morning to water coming into the bedroom as my Dad closed storm windows throughout the house.

At some point we looked outside the kitchen window and realized that the creek, which is normally hidden in the woods behind the house, was flowing strongly within view.  We threw on boots and windbreakers and, in a lull in the storm, went out to check on it.  The water had come over the banks of the creek and was flowing freely through the woods, uprooting trees and moving boulders along with an eerie cacophony.  A few minutes later we found ourselves trapped by the rising water and were forced to wade in swirling knee deep mud in order to get back to the house.  Soon after, some downed trees blocked the culvert below the bridge leading to our house and the creek turned river, no longer able to flow underneath the bridge, poured over the road forging a new path.

Back inside, we may have said something like "at least we still have power."  Minutes later, the quiet house turned silent.  We still had the phone and word came in from around town that we were stuck, roads were washed out on either side of us.  We hunkered down, lit candles, and listened to the creek roaring in the backyard.

Yesterday we surveyed the damage.  The creek out back had been transformed-whole swaths of what was once forest was now clearing, the bedrock creek bed which was exposed from a flood a few years ago was now covered in gravel and small rocks.  The pavement on the bridge was buckled and broken but, for us, no damage was sustained that can't grow back or be repaired.

photos taken with my phone along route 145, north of the Catskills
 We were lucky.  We made our slow way home last night passed closed thruways and highways and around flooded towns and homes.  Up and over mountains in state parks and detoured through high ground.  Back to our loud apartment with the mice and electricity, just a little more thankful than we had been a few days before. 

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