West Tisbury: Storm preparation

— Kyra Steck

I woke up during the night, about 4 am, and took Abby outside. The air was heavy and wet and the only sound was of surf pounding ashore in the distance. This was Monday morning, a day after Hurricane Henri threatened the East Coast before turning inland and missing us altogether.

It had been a weekend of preparations. One never knows if a storm will behave as predicted or if it will change its mind and course in some seemingly arbitrary way. We were expecting rain, which never happened. Maybe half an inch early on that daylong breezes probably evaporated. We were at risk of losing our power. That didn’t happen either, just a momentary blip early Sunday morning that quickly resolved itself. I didn’t notice much wind until we took Abby for a walk in the afternoon. Our woods had blocked most of it.

Not so along the great pond, where it was noticeably windy with white-capped waves, not something one usually sees in that peaceful spot. It looked like the opening at Quansoo had been breached, but it turned out to be big onshore waves cresting over the beach. When Mike took Abby this morning, he said the pond was as high as it had been, all the way up to the stairs.

It’s still quiet now, still overcast and humid, the heavy air holding sound as it holds moisture. No birds, no surf, no wind blowing through the leaves, no cracking sounds from fallen or almost fallen branches. How often does one experience silence?

Inside, the fan blades are continually turning, and my fingers are tapping on the computer keys.

Preparations for the impending storm seem to have absorbed much of the weekend’s energy. I had driven past hayfields earlier in the week and planned a tribute to the good fortune of dry weather so they had been cut, tedded, baled, and stored, a good second haying. The shelves at Cronig’s were erratically empty when I went to pick up a few things Saturday afternoon. It had been busy early in the day, leaving plain Milanos, but no double chocolate. I got the last lime, no English muffins or bread, no tuna fish or dill pickles, but enough Fancy Feast cat food to feed Katey for a few days.

I love preparing for a storm. Hurricanes, nor’easters, and blizzards were regular occurrences during my Connecticut childhood. I remember my mother’s preparations: bringing the kerosene stove up from the basement; gathering batteries, flashlights, candles, matches, cans of tuna fish and Campbell’s tomato soup, Peter Pan peanut butter and Welch’s grape jelly, kindling and firewood, piles of books, puzzles, games, drawing pads, and crayons. She would lay a big blanket on the floor in front of the fireplace in our living room, bring out pillows and quilts. And there we would stay, cozy and warm, with plenty to do, and plenty of soup and sandwiches to eat. Both my parents would be home during storms. We would all be together, special days that are among my happiest memories. I still approach an impending storm with excitement and happiness. Snow picnics or storm picnics we called them.

It’s funny because now I am usually home alone with the animals during bad storms. I commented to Mike, as we were walking down the path to the beach yesterday, that I didn’t remember us ever being together. He was always with the guys at the firehouse across the street, chainsaw sharpened, ready for whatever happened in town that might require firemen to respond. I don’t mind. We each have our own habits and responsibilities.

Much of the rest of last week had been filled with preparations for the fair. It was as familiar and busy as ever, much as everyone expected. It was too bad the last day had to be cancelled, but it was a prudent decision. So glad there were three whole days of rides and blue ribbons and hamburgers.

Boats were cancelled all day Sunday. I can’t imagine what Vineyard Haven and the Steamship parking lot must look like today. I suppose the Island is getting back to its normal self.

Harriet Bernstein sent me an email this morning saying that Built on Stilts was being held as planned this afternoon at Union Chapel. Among others, Harriet will be dancing, my elegant and talented friend.

Joanne Scott asked me to mention that she has moved to America. She wanted to remind Island friends who had wondered why they hadn’t seen her in a while. She misses everyone, but loves being close to her grandchildren, Olivia and Cameron. She will visit, she said.

The IGI truck will continue to be parked in the Howes House/library parking lot with their wonderful fresh produce to sell. They are there on Tuesday afternoons from 3 to 4 o’clock.

My darling Iyla Bohan turned 5 last Wednesday. Her birthday party was great fun. Unicorns were the theme of the day, with decorations including a unicorn pinata that took quite a beating from several turns by children before it finally succumbed, pouring down toys and confetti from overhead. Attempts to pin the horn on the unicorn had us all laughing. The unicorn cake was amazing and delicious, baked and decorated by Iyla’s mom, Stephanie, and her Deedee, Candy daRosa. Best of all, Iyla got her longed-for hamster, whom she named Whiskers. I have met Whiskers and attest to her cuteness and amiability.

Iyla’s Granny, Mary Bohan, came from Connecticut to spend the week. She, Iyla, and I are going out for lobster rolls at the Square Rigger, so I have to end the column and get ready.

Have a good week, everyone. It looks like the sun is coming out.

If you have any West Tisbury Town Column suggestions, email Hermine Hull, hermine.hull@gmail.com.