Winslow Tudor
September 2, 2011

On either side of the road leading to Tasha’s house the asters are in bloom. They are the wild, New England variety, and though they are fond of roadsides, their largest colony thrives at the end of the vegetable garden. Phlox, goldenrod, Joe Pye Weed and a few hardy annuals flourish in the terraces in front of the house, while along the borders of the field the hardwoods are rapidly turning color. 

Each morning newly fallen leaves pattern the ground, while above fast flying V’s of geese point south. Even the heat, persistent to an unwelcoming degree much of this year, is draining south, while to the northeast large and dark clouds gather. The wind is from the northeast as well, and the leaves, those on the ground or those for whom it is only a matter of time, are restless.

Of course Autumn arrives every year, as it always has. The gardens around Tasha’s house are due for a fresh application of compost before the ground freezes, and many of the beds have already been cut back and readied for winter. All the firewood has been taken in from the fields where it has been drying since this spring, and stacked in the woodshed. The storm windows will soon be on, for winter is not far off.

Many of you inquired about the heavy rains and subsequent destruction in Vermont from Hurricane Irene earlier this year, desiring to know how Tasha’s house had faired, and if the gardens were alright. Both suffered little or no damage. But it occurred to us that the lessons learned from this unexpected and prolonged event might be of interest to some of you, if only from a different perspective as, undoubtedly, there are those of you acquainted with natural disasters and their aftermath. Below are excerpts of notes taken during or immediately after hurricane Irene:

1. Some disasters unfold slowly and not in the manner expected. For example although we were supposed to get heavy rain, in fact, most everyone was concerned about the 70 mph winds headed our way. We never got the wind. Eleven inches of rain was the problem.

2. It takes a little while to realize just how dangerous unfolding events are.

3. Remember that chance favors the prepared. So be prepared even if an event is not forecasted to be severe. Maybe nine times out of ten nothing happens, but then when it does you’ll be ready.

4. During a time of crisis, if possible, eat well, keep house and kitchen clean, stay involved with those around you, keep to a schedule, do not over-exert yourself, and consider carefully decisions you make.

5. This is important: Once roads and services open they can be sporadic. People can be short tempered, strangers on the road and emergency personnel tired, angry, and frustrated, traffic unregulated and dangerous. With our town completely cut off from the outside world and no way to communicate, police, fire, rescue and all other facets of society we depend on could not help. And remember that necessity knows no laws.

6. Sometimes one disaster leads to another.

7. Perhaps discomfort and hardship is too easily forgotten. Had to look up notes taken during the hours the event unfolded to remember lessons learned.