Goodnight? Who can sleep with Hurricane Irene bearing down

LEXINGTON, Mass. — So much for the national news, the National Weather Service and Twitter’s gazillion followers.

As Mark Twain said, “Everybody talks about the weather, but no one DOES anything about it.” And that includes giving obsessive weather watchers like me a clue as to just where Hurricane Irene is really headed. As one weather expert told John Hockenberry on NPR’s Takeaway earlier today, a slight shift of 50 miles to the East or 50 miles to the West can make a big difference in the ferocity or damage of the storm.

Well that’s reassuring: It doesn’t tell me a thing about where Irene is heading NOW!
(So much for hurricanes being a form of nasty we can make sense of beforehand.)

And so I surf the Net, trying to make sense of satellite photos and decipher multicolored computer models.

At the local hardware store, people seemed a bit less concerned. In fact, when I came to the counter with my three or four dozen batteries and enough masking tape to wrap next year’s Christmas tree in, the prevailing sentiment was “whatever.”

“Yeah, it’s like they say we’re going to have a blizzard and we get 2 inches of snow,” said one woman. (Maybe I should have put back a few dozen batteries?) The woman at the register thought it a quaint and outmoded concept that I might put criss-crossed masking tape over the windows to keep them from shattering — sort of like dancing the twist at a Lady Gaga concert. (Remember the hurricane of 1985? Or was it ’86?)

I secretly admire the hardware store crowd, and not only because my limited success in home improvement consists of one front screen door that took me three hours to install. Their macho indifference does make some sense. Most weather events aren’t ever quite as bad as the president, governor, mayor, National Guard and the endlessly chattering weather reporters make them out to be.

But wait a minute. How often do all those people hold press conferences or issue statements? I didn’t hear from any of them during last week’s thunderstorm.

And then there are those still powerful images of Katrina. So I’m getting a crick in my neck looking up at the two very large white pines towering over my house and garage, one due south of our bedroom.

Which leads me to a different category of civilians: worriers. That would be me.

I haven’t yet dug a hurricane shelter in the back yard. But Kathy and I have taken down the hammock and mailbox and wind chimes. We’ve stuffed just about everything including one car in the garage. I bought a handy-dandy Red Cross windup radio with cell phone charger just in case the power goes off for two or three weeks. And we’re debating (no, make that I am debating) whether we really need to spend Sunday in the basement, which is unfinished, because of all that rain and wind and word that tree roots already could be loose because of the wet summer. (I guess the talking weather heads have taught me something.)

Things could be worse. In case we do go to the basement, we do have eight gallons of water there. At least we won’t get thirsty.


About jerrylanson

I teach, write, coach and sing, though you're not required to listen to the latter. I'm a journalism professor at Emerson College in Boston. My third book, "Writing for Others, Writing for Ourselves," was published in November by Rowman & Littlefield Publishing. You can read a sample chapter at My passions are politics (generally liberal in outlook), music, mountains, golden retrievers and my grandchildren, though not in that order. Please stop by and mix it up with me. I always answer those who post.
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