Wednesday, January 25, 2012

365 Jobs: Storm (One) A Small Spot of Light

Tuesday, November 30, 1982

Every winter, storms slam into the Pacific Coast.  Trees crash.  Land oozes.  Roads close.  These are the days when you realize what it means to live in a rural area such as La Honda. 

The winter of 1982-83 was an El Niño event.  (El Niño occurs when the Pacific Ocean is unusually warm, causing severe weather.)  It began in November with a hurricane that devastated Hawaii and then, somewhat diminished, struck the West Coast. 

At that time my children were ages six, four, and an infant.  I was remodeling a house on the Stanford campus, where the storm was simply a wet inconvenience.  They had electricity.  They could drive to the shopping center without dodging fallen trees.

After the day's work, driving home into the mountains, I remember fierce waves of wind.  Hail.  Thunder and lightning.  At home we had two Aladdin Lamps, four oil lamps, and various candles.  A camp stove for cooking.  We slept huddled together in front of the fireplace for warmth.  By firelight, I wrote this:

Hurricane Eva

The floorboards tremble.
Branches pelt the roof.
Rain blows under the door.
The phone, dead.
The electricity will be out for days.
I build a fire, light lanterns named Aladdin,
heat water in the fireplace,
play guitar, fetch wood, buy ice,
help the neighbor start her car.
My house from outside is a small spot of light
in a dark storm.
The power is out
but we are not powerless.

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