We’re located in Manassas (and by we I mean my family and I live in Manassas, Virginia. The use of “we” to refer to a single person is called “the majestic plural.” Mark Twain once allegedly said that “Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial ‘we.‘ “), about 25 miles or so west south west of the center of Washington DC. The weather here over the range of local broadcast stations can vary greatly because of the topography (mountains in the west declining gradually eastward to sea level shore line with weather also ameliorated by the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean to the east), so exact forecasts for any region are tricky. Snowfalls from east to west or north to south can vary by as much as a foot and temperatures by 10 to 15 degrees.
We are generally on the western edge of any hurricane that comes up along the coast as Irene did, so we weren’t hammered as the unfortunate communities along the Carolina, Virgina and Maryland coasts were. New York City got off easier than expected as the storm weakened. Locally, we got about two inches of rain measured by my working rain gauge) and winds seemed to run 20 miles an hour as far as I could tell using my Cub Scout silver arrow point weather unit skills whereby one estimates wind speed by the movement of flags, trees, small children and large heavy rocks. (Not as accurate as anemometer, I know. Gotta get me one of those.) Becky said we lost power early Sunday morning but I was asleep. We got off easy.
The earthquake this past week and the hurricane the past few days have served as definitive reminders of the power of nature, if any of us had forgotten. In the form of tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, blizzards and hurricanes, nature can unleash brutal power that we can do nothing to stop. I once heard someone call in to a radio show to ask an expert on atomic weapons if one or more nuclear weapons dropped on a hurricane might break it apart and render it harmless. The expert chuckled and replied that the power of a nuclear weapon, as great as it is, would make no difference to the structure or movement of a hurricane.
Just for the record, here’s a picture of my hurricane readiness kit:
In case it’s hard to tell from the picture what the special items are, they are, from left to right, cranberry sauce (I can pretend it’s Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays, and be happy), rice ( I love rice. This is microwave rice and takes 90 seconds to fix! Ninety seconds!), dark chocolate (good and good for you! Eat up!), a saltine cracker (not elegant, but this is a survival kit, after all) crossword puzzle (must keep the mind sharp and active) and pencil (this one doesn’t have an eraser–it’s just a prop. I couldn’t find one with an eraser. I’m good with crosswords, but not that good), Kindle (needed to be charged. Oops. Hope the electricity holds up), chilled Pepsi in a can (delicious sugar infused water!), Art Garfunkel CD (Art is my man and makes me feel better. Sing “Bridge over Troubled Water” for me, Art!), harmonica (for that lonesome prairie cowboy vibe), cat food (so my cat won’t eat me), TV remote (to control the set while I watch my poor Nats leave dozens of men on base and lose again), American cheese ( symbolic since Bloom had pulled all the cheese off the shelves as they prepared to close early Saturday evening. No brie for me! The American cheese product stands in for it) and battery-powered radio (with little Sony speakers so everyone can gather around and listen just like the Fireside Chats) set to WTOP-FM, home of the glass-enclosed nerve center.
Seriously, though all this display of the power of nature was enough to make anyone think and enough to make anyone more than humble. And thankful for what we just avoided.