Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Weekend with Irene

So on Saturday it was was a trip to the stores to stock up with the usual weekend necessities and check that candles and duct tape were within easy reach as Hurricane Irene was sweeping up the east coast towards us. Kota was kept indoors and all windows were closed. I was a little nervous as I was on my own and on top of a hill open to the elements but hey, as a former firefighter I was trained to deal with emergencies. The day started off fine but the winds soon picked up and I worried about all the little butterflies, my hummingbird and Mr & Mrs Cardinal and where they would hide.
I made a huge Cottage Pie to keep myself busy and with the Chocolate Chip Cookies I'd made earlier I was set. I talked with Mum on the phone who was insistent that I prepare an emergency kit and put all my valuables in a safe place. Then a chat with Boo, also in England, and she listened to the winds howling as I struggled on the patio to move my plant pots and tables to a safer area.
While I was doing this I got walloped in the side by one of my blue metal chairs which was blown past me and onto the grass. It was time to head indoors.
Kota took refuge in one of the closets, the first time I'd seen him show any alarm in a storm. But he didn't stay there for too long.
He watched the storm through the window and then soon fell asleep on his hammock.
It wasn't too bad all the time there was daylight but as darkness fell my fear rose. I went outside to see how bad it was, took a couple of photos and then rushed back indoors again, soaked after only a couple of minutes.
We were cozy inside and I turned on the TV to try and block the noise out. The trees were bending over in the gales that were strong enough to blow the ears off a donkey while the rain was lashing at the windows and crashing on the roof. I kept pacing back and forwards through the house and then was amazed to see car lights beaming through the windows and past my house. My surprise turned to delight when I realized that my new neighbor Robert had turned up. He hasn't fully moved in yet but I was very impressed that he had decided to experience the storm in his new home and stay the night. It was also very comforting having a man nearby. I immediately felt reassured and safer.
As Irene howled and beat against the house I read my book and before long decided to go to bed because I was finding it too hard to concentrate on anything. The noises of the storm actually lulled me to sleep and I didn't wake until morning when I jumped out of bed and checked out of all the windows. Nothing had been damaged, the only debris was a few branches down and so many leaves on the ground it seemed that fall had suddenly happened overnight. The winds had lessened and after a few hours the sun shone making it hard to believe we'd had such a violent storm. Kota and I went out for a walk and we must have looked a right pair if anyone had seen us. He was dashing back and forth as though he'd been locked up for weeks and his infectious mood had me doing cartwheels on the grass alongside him. I haven't done those for years!
The place was alive with crickets and grasshoppers and I filled up the bird seed dispensers for the cardinals and squirrels. Butterflies were flitting over the meadows and I even spotted my hummingbird again. The only creature not present in its previous numbers was the stinkbug, they had seemingly all been blown away.
Kota was happy to pose for some photos and we walked through a wooded area we'd not explored before.
There were beautiful springy mosses growing and both Kota and I laid on the ground for a while enjoying the soft comfort and warm sun. I even found some rocks which formed natural chair backs and resolved to return on a warm afternoon with a book. After a while we continued walking across the fields, or rather I did, as Kota wanted to be carried. The fields had been mowed down ready for fall but were covered in sharp stalks that stuck up about 5 inches or so, and probably poked his belly. He found it difficult negotiating through these, wailed his anguish and then climbed up on my shoulder.
We came across a small copse which comprised of a largish tree in the middle that was surrounded by smaller trees, reminding me of a mushroom fairy ring. As we entered it became immediately cooler and I noticed that an old tree had fallen against the bigger tree leaving a strong bark casing that was almost horizontal through the tree's branches. Once I'd climbed up I realized that it formed a natural 'bench' which was ideal for sitting or laying down on.
So for the next half hour or so, Kota sat on my lap up in the tree and we enjoyed another period of pure laziness laying there feeling the cool breeze rustle through the canopy of leaves overhead. It really was very comfortable and I had to chuckle as I thought we were probably the only girl and cat in the world who were relaxing together up in a tree. We even managed a doze up there, it was so peaceful. I started thinking it would be wonderful in the fall with a pillow, blanket and a book but I'm sure we'll be back there before then. It's now our Secret Place.
As dinner time approached we climbed down and slowly wandered back to Meadow House, once again with Kota perched on my shoulder. He was getting used to his taxi service. And as we walked under the trees I nearly stepped on a black snake at the back of the house.

I quickly put Kota inside and ran back to see him. He was a youngster, only about 5ft long and I bent down to stroke his black scales. He wasn't happy about that and wriggled to the undergrowth with me in hot pursuit. But then I backed off quickly as once he was under cover he turned and raised his head. Not wanting to push my luck I had to click my shutter fast, hence the blurry photo.I know these snakes aren't poisonous but I'm sure their bite still hurts.
Back indoors I got Kota his dinner and then we both sat in front of the TV watching the hurricane damage reports, feeling thankful that we'd escaped with not even being inconvenienced. I'd not needed to use any of my emergency supplies and I'd still managed to enjoy my weekend. My only concern as I looked down at my plate was, how many days was I going to be eating Cottage Pie and Chocolate Chip Cookies for?!

No comments: