August 2011


This is your blog host on location in New York, with a personal account of Hurricane Irene.

The rain began yesterday, lightly at first. Then we had a torrential downpour for about 30 minutes. Then all action stopped. The air was humid and thick. My steps were slow and heavy; it was almost as difficult as walking through snow drifts. Walking two blocks knocked the wind out of me and I headed for the air conditioned, dry indoors.

During the late afternoon, Irene showed her strength. Trees swayed quickly back and forth and the rain came down in sheets. In the midst of all the outside activity, we gathered around the table for supper. With great food and wonderful warm company, we forgot about the hurricane. Instead, inside jokes rained! Belly laughs abounded at the silliest comments. Hurray for humor!

Late at night, I walked back to my guest accommodations. Green leaves and some twigs had already fallen. I played hopscotch over the puddles and arrived safely.

The rain pounded constantly all night. I woke up at one point and looked outside – the street lights were still visible. By early morning, the rain subsided and the wind quieted to a gentle breeze. I cautiously stepped outside. I enjoyed a walk to the restaurant to meet a cousin. It was even dry, safe and cool enough to walk a distance to see some friends. What a pleasure to move!

However, not all of the areas were so fortunate. There are folks without power. A friend reported a tree blocked her front door. There are flooded streets and highways.

I may think I have some control over my life. I may think, “I have my days planned. I’m all set.” The hurricane reminded me that there’s a power that’s much stronger than me in charge. I’m grateful for the reminder.

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Several years ago (ok, many years ago), I canoed down the Connecticut River with a camp group. We traveled on the portion of the River that divides Vermont and New Hampshire. We canoed from early morning until dusk, stopping at towns and sites along the way. Trees and fields lined the river banks. Most of the time, the water was placid and clear, and we had good weather. On those days we paddled calmly and made great progress. Other days, the river was rough and we paddled against the winds. There were light, short rapids that we navigated expertly.

Then we came to a portion of the River filled with high water. These rapids, the counselors explained, were dangerous and therefore unsafe for us to try and paddle through them. Well before that point, our counselors guided us to a safe part of the river bank so that we could pull
the canoes out and portage them over land.

We hauled the canoes onto the bank. Dressed for the hike, we placed each canoe on wheels and headed into a town. We managed arrive in town at rush hour and stopped traffic as the train of canoes crossed a main thoroughfare! What a site – we even made the local news that evening!

Having crossed the town streets, we headed back toward the river. As we headed down, we saw the rapids. Waves of white spewing water jumped up and down around the rocks. The rushing water sounded like thunder and looked as if it swallowed up anything in its path. Whew! Even though the hike and portaging was hard, it was a lot safer than attempting those rapids.

More recently, I also tried to canoe through some rapids – Career River Rapids. Just like that canoe trip, there were some mild rapids in the beginning. I could navigate those easily – email my network, contact recruiters, or post my resume. Then I came up to those swirling, high white waters, with lots of rocks. I was up against several challenges. I needed to stop and take stock of where I was. It was time to get out of the water, portage to a safer location, and regroup. I saw the scenery differently. I found a quieter, more serene section of the river and put my canoe back in the water.

I’m paddling evenly again.