West Tisbury

It was still pitch black out when I awoke Tuesday, the morning after the storm. Our woods remain remarkably leafy and colorful. The sky, as it lightened into morning, has changed from the sickly, heavy yellow-gray of an incoming storm, to streaky blue, flat gray, sunshine, flattening-out again. In a moment, it has changed once more, sun-streaking across the lawn.

I had meant to be efficient, getting my column in on time Sunday afternoon, but preparing for the storm overtook my intentions. Yesterday, I felt totally enervated by the low pressure. Every time I sat down to the computer the power went off or I fell asleep. It was a long day. Mike had left early morning for the fire station, so it was just me, our dogs and goldfish, kitten Porter, and the Weather Channel. Watching Sandy progress up the east coast was addictive.

Preparing for a storm tests one’s capabilities and imagination. Everyone in town was out on Sunday, either at Cronig’s or Alley’s. Fears and jolly conversations, mixed with memories of storms and preparations past, were the order of the day. I think Katie Hough and I are the only people I know who actually enjoy the lead-up. We both have happy memories of family gathered in candle-lit houses, fireplaces roaring, eating soup and playing games. Much like the protocol we both follow. Katie told me a story about being sent out to the field surrounding her Indian Hill Road home to feel the silence in the eye of a hurricane. “Come right back,” the children were admonished.

The sky has gone dark again.

We only had a big branch fall from a tree in our front yard. It crushed a hawthorne tree I had been meaning to cut down. I had planted it too close to a Japanese Maple that has branched out majestically, overtaking the hawthorne that is now spindly, misshapen, and the object of Mike’s wrath every time he has to mow the lawn beneath its spiky branches. Fallen leaves cover the lawn. And sticks, twigs, little branches, a winter’s worth of kindling.

The house is cleaned. A big beef stew, made to be easily reheated on the wood stove, still has leftovers in the pot for tonight’s dinner. More laundry has been done and folded than I can imagine either of us using in a lifetime. A pile of Inspector Morse mysteries rests on the table by my reading spot on the sofa –- two piles, actually — one finished, the other to be read. The storm has passed. Time to head outside to survey the damage and clean up the mess.