Staying the Course

Early this morning I received an alert from my no-fail personal emergency broadcast system: my black cat, Lucy. Said emergency had nothing to do with the approach of Choose-Your Category-Take-Your-Best-Guess Storm Henri. Her concern? Breakfast service, STAT.

Ordinarily I would have rolled over and informed her she could cool her paws until a decent hour. But she was oddly skittish, and I knew kicking her out of the bedroom would be futile. Grumbling, I stepped into the hallway and was immediately hit by a disgustingly stagnant wall of heat. The morning was way darker than usual, too.

Uh oh. Something, to quote Madeline’s Miss Clavel, was not right. A quick check of my phone confirmed this. (Note: This photo is from 3 hours later, because I didn’t save it at the time, and it got updated. But we live at the exact spot where Henri takes a hard turn to the right.)

Yup, in a few short hours we here in Southwestern New Hampshire would be in for a treat: heavy winds, rains, flash floods, and possible tornadoes. Sure, we’re used to sudden storms and rapidly changing weather in New England. Ho-hum. But after the weird summer we’ve had, with untold mega liquid tons of rain (I think that’s the correct meteorological term), our yard confirms that Birnam Wood approacheth. And yes, I know how much my West Coast friends would love to have all this…moisture…but it’s been very, very strange. Usually, big storms move up from the south and blow out to sea, but this is 2021—so the storm is coming from the sea.

Okay. Time to prepare, because really, you just can’t be too careful. No sense waking up my hubby. Here’s his general response to my overblown caution re: everything I see on the 24/7 news these days:

I should point out, however, that yesterday he checked the generator AND the chainsaw, just in case. (We live in the woods.)

I go through the checklist for Wicked Staahms: batteries in flashlights (as opposed to somewhere in the pantry), camping lantern, ice, remove the flags and buntings, run water in the tub, move the potted plants and deck furniture and whatever else might go flying, pick the prettiest flowers and place them in pitchers so they didn’t bloom in vain, drag sandbags in front of basement doors (ah-ha! Hubby already took care of that last one.). And, of course, have that bright yellow slicker handy.

Overkill? Yes. So many people have things a lot worse right now, both weather-wise and life-wise. There’s no comparison. I know I’m trying to control things that are beyond anyone’s control. But I have to work on this fear issue. The roller coaster has been controlling me lately, and it’s hard to focus on writing. Well, harder. But I do have one memory that never fails to put me back on a more even keel.

Thirty-three years and one month ago, on a desperately hot July afternoon, I took a Circle Line ferry trip around the island of Manhattan with my dad and 5-month-old daughter. As we rounded the northern end, we encountered a sudden, violent storm. As in, people fled the bar screaming and ran from one side of the boat to the other as giant waves sent huge walls of water crashing onto the deck. The captain asked everyone to remain seated for even weight distribution, but no one listened. Not sure I blamed them—our “seats” were unanchored wooden folding chairs set up in rows on the deck. They slid all over the place, along with the tourists. But my dad, the former Navy man, stood there in the wind, his hands firmly on the back of the empty chair in front of him. “A little squall,” he said, but I was petrified. “What should we do?” I said, envisioning the Titanic. He answered in three words: Stay the course.

Of course, that’s what the captain of the Titanic probably said. But in the end, it turned out to be the right call for us (although we did get very, very wet). The “squall” passed, the sun came out, and it got even hotter. By the time we reached the pier, we and the decks were completely dry. It was as if we’d sailed through a bad dream.

So now the hatches are battened here at the cabin, and it’s time to start in on the daily word count. Oh. Wait. Twitter just said Henri made landfall in…Rhode Island?


Readers, how are you dealing with the crazy weather–or general stress–these days? Let us know in the comments!

34 thoughts on “Staying the Course

  1. “untold mega liquid tons of rain”
    YES. Here in western Pennsylvania too. We managed to avoid Henri but did get tons of rain from Fred, although thankfully, not the wind. Still, it’s been a weird and wild summer weatherwise. I’ve bought additional camp lanterns and a new charger for my electronics because two 17-hour power outages killed my little cheap charger. We even paid megabucks to take down my beloved shady maple because I love my roof more than my tree.
    I may print your father’s “Stay the Course” message and post it above my desk. Wise advice.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. So sorry about your maple, Annette. I hear you, because we have some vintage trees that probably should go, for the same reason. And maybe I should print out that message, too–because sometimes I forget!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I am in Central New York, between Interstates 81 & 88/40 miles West of Cooperstown. We got torrential rain and have localized small stream flooding. A bit better this morning but still the treat of more rain.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I just drove through your area during a huge storm, Emily! We’re waiting for more rain, too–3 pm. How much can the ground absorb, jeesh?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We’re in the middle of a streak of 90+ degree weather in Central Indiana. I’m dealing with that by not looking at the grass that needs to be cut.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. The grass is terrifying, J.C.! We have a guy who comes to cut it every other week on a huge honking mower. He has been cutting the stuff totally WET. (Didn’t know you could even do that, but I guess otherwise he wouldn’t get any jobs done all summer.)

      Liked by 2 people

  4. “Stay the course” – yes.

    I’m coming to realize that life is one big, unpredictable roller coaster and if you let yourself get too caught up in trying to control everything, you’ll go crazy.

    Now if only I can remember that when it comes to waiting for The Boy’s summer grades. LOL

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Yep, the ol’ Boy Scout motto: Be prepared. (That is the Boy Scouts, right?) Fortunately, we usually get plenty of notice. And when the forecasters say evacuate or prep or stay put, New Englanders generally do. If you don’t have those snow tires on by Labor Day (no white shoes for us), well…it’s pretty much on you.

      Liked by 6 people

  5. Here in NC we get hurricanes and tropical storms coming through all the time, not to mention good ol’ frog-strangling thunderstorms every summer evening. Our house is 100+ years old, so we hardly pay attention unless the power goes out.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Frog-strangling! Love it. I mean, I don’t love the actual idea, just the expression. We rarely lose power, fortunately, and we were also lucky enough to get an almost-new generator for $50 from someone who was moving. Yesterday morning, as I did last-minute errands (& Dunks drive-thru) just before the storm arrived, I looked at all those antique buildings that make up our town and told myself they’d weathered many storms. Still standin’…

      Liked by 3 people

  6. We rarely have hurricanes, squalls, or nor’easters to worry about here in Colorado, and I don’t even know if I spelled that right. This last week has been a lovely respite from the 95+ temps of late, but we had a little rain and our blue skies are back instead of that ugly sky from all the fires out west. Our deal is blizzards. We get plenty of notice, so we’re able to batten our hatches and stay the course as well. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of about worrying over the forecast and being prepared. Especially since that’s all we can do!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I feel better now, Becky! And yeah, we don’t live near the coast so our biggest weather plagues are usually blizzards as well. I do fear tornadoes from my time living in TN, but I have only seen the sky turn that eerie green here once. Think I was the only one who knew that was a signal to run for the storm cellar (Auntie Emmmmm!). I used to be very smug about living in NYC as weather never seemed to affect us there until lately. A bit disconcerting to see boats in downtown Brooklyn now…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. All bets are off regarding weather these days. Here in California, much of the state is on fire, but it’s been cold and pretty much raining from the low fog where I live in Santa Cruz. That, along with the smoke from the fires up north, has given us very eerie skies.

    So glad that Monsieur Henri slacked off at the last moment! But our new motto most definitely should be “stay the course.” Oy.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. We get the traveling smoke from the West here in NH, Leslie. Not as bad, of course–that’s when we really appreciate all this rain. And re: M. Henri, I’m glad he did NOT stay on course.


  8. Like Leslie, it’s all about fires in California right now. Though the other day, we did get a strange drizzle of rain in SoCal. What I’m usually concerned about are earthquakes–not to say I’m super prepared like you. In fact, I better make sure those batteries are somewhat near the flashlights.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. At least we have cell phone flashlights to help us find those wayward batteries now, lol. I was always fumbling in the dark and knocking things off shelves.


  9. It’s always hard to know. You need to prepare, but at the same time, you can get the sense of those who lived in the village where the boy cried wolf at times. I honestly wish they’d report the news with a little less hysteria at times. “It looks like Henri will hit and go in this pattern at the moment, so please prepare accordingly. We’ll keep you updated as it approaches for any course changes.” Instead, I see reports like “It’s coming!!! We are all going to die!!!!!” I’d pay more attention to the first one, but it’s all too easy to tune the second one out.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m one of those West Coast folk jealous that you have actual weather. Everything you’re talking about we have to do for fire and earthquake possibilities. I have boxes of family memories by the door, ready to be thrown in the car should the worst happen.

      And I agree with Mark. I’m sick of them reporting the weather alerts with such hysteria and then following with a “Well, they dodged a bullet in Schenectady.” It’s one thing to caution people to prepare. It’s another to treat it like a weather soap opera. My 94 year-old mother was in a state of worry in NY. And then they got… rain.

      Liked by 3 people

  10. Stay the course! Fabulous advice. It reminds me of Churchill’s, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Although that’s perhaps a bit darker.

    To cope with various and sundry stresses, including wildfires that won’t quit, I’ve been walking. a LOT. I’m talking two to three hours at a time. It’s been very therapeutic. (Yes, even when the air quality index rivals the smoking section of airplanes in ye olde days.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is so impressive, Kathy! And lol re: the designated airplane smoking sections. (Used to be the whole plane.) I remember a very long trip from JFK to Shannon years ago. Yowza.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Lisa, I’m glad you’ve got the hatches battened down — just in case Henri kicks some heavy rain back your way. My brother and his family live in “tornado alley” in west Tennessee. Whenever they head into their underground shelter, in addition to flashlights and weather radio they always take one very important provision — brownies! So, when you head to the basement don’t forget the snacks!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Brownies!!!! What an amazing idea! I might never come back up, lol. We’re getting that rain now, in fact (Monday night). Holy moly. It’s incredible.

      Liked by 2 people

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