More than two hundred trees toppled in Newton, according to yesterday’s Newton Tab, where the storm made the front page. (This will tell you something about the excitement level of events in my home town.)
When it began, we were exactly where any garden-loving New Englander would be on a Sunday in June: out working in the yard. But we had a particular excuse. We’d spent the earlier part of the weekend on Block Island and had a lot of catching up to do before Dan flew into his midweek work travel schedule.
I can’t say there was no warning about this storm. Of course there was. The weather was unsettled. This is *New England* we’re talking about here, right? So we ignored the darkening sky, the rising wind. We did note the near-constant background growling of thunder, a more common phenomenon in the midwest than here. We also noted the occasional loud crash and tried our best to hurry putting cages onto the tomato plants in the side yard.
But when the rain came, it came all at once, the air turning suddenly into an environment more suitable for fish than for people. We dropped the tomato cages and fled. Into the screen porch, the nearest door. Soaked. Oblivious of boundaries, wind blew rain right through the screens. We shed muddy gardening shoes and escaped indoors.
Half an hour later, the storm was gone. So was our power.
This turns out to be a big event in our neighborhood, right up there with the annual clean-up party at the community garden. “Is your power out, too?” a neighbor emails our neighborhood mailing list. I receive it on my Blackberry. Yes, we’re all without power. A neighbor reports a tree down on the road leading into the neighborhood. Struck by lightning. Dan and I venture outside to investigate.Many of our neighbors do the same.
This is what it looks like:
Strangely, no one seems upset. The atmosphere is almost festive. As dusk falls, no street lights glare into the peaceful evening. Soft candlelight in the windows reveals who is at home. We grill fish and broccolini and warm up leftover mashed potatoes on the grill. A feast.
We decide to walk into Newton Centre to get ice cream for dessert. We meet a neighbor at the community garden, who tells us that the electric company has come by. Temporarily, they’ve fixed the problem. We look around at the darkened street and raise a skeptical eyebrow. “Well, not fixed, exactly,” he says. “But they put up that yellow crime-scene tape on both ends of the road where the tree is down.” As if otherwise people would drive right through and not notice.
“Did they say when they were going to fix it?”
“Not right away,” says our neighbor. “They have to work on all the fires first. There are six or eight of those. They don’t know how long it will take. And there are eight trees down just in this immediate area.”
On the way home from Newton Centre, we see one of those other downed trees. The electric company has started work, and a police car, lights flashing, blocks the road while the work is going on. And guess what’s on the screen of the inboard laptop computer in the police car! Solitaire! I swear this is true. Er… that is, Officer, someone must have hacked my blog and put that in. I never saw anything like that. Not me.
“If no one has any electricity,” a neighbor who is away from town emails, “how is everyone managing to send around all these emails?” Just the way you sent yours, of course, I want to reply, but someone else gets to it first. On our cell phones. Computer? What computer?
Still enjoying the festive spirit of an evening with no electricity (and trying not to worry too much about what will happen to the contents of the refrigerator if this turns into a week with no electricity), we go home and to bed.
The lights come blindingly on all over the house at exactly 4:13am.
Thank you, NStar, for working through the night while we slept.