The whole island woke up at about two thirty in the morning. The air was thick with an unusual humidity and the storm was rolling in fast. The barometric pressure dropped and our ears tingled and twitched. We threw off bed clothes in the heat and glanced at the clocks. That was how we would all tell it sleepily the next day. “Something woke me up at 2:30 and then what a storm that was. I couldn’t get back to sleep”
There was a blast of cold air on the North end of the island, and as the wind stiffened and whipped around the beaches the waves began to roil. Their edges were a brilliant bubbling white against the black of the night sky. The cold air met the hot currents down where we were and you could feel the vibration. The air felt electrified and even my thin cotton nightgown was plastered to my side. We threw off our nightclothes and stood naked staring out at the sea watching the sails which had been put to bed on tranquil waters now whip and fly like in a sort of frantic harbor dance. There was a brief hush and then the rain started. Big gloppy drops that fell hard and made a racket on the windows. They mingled among sheets of whiter streaks of rain. Thunder rumbled and the lightning streaked across the sky and lit up the bedrooms in the cottage. In the distance we could hear sirens and dogs howling with the wind.
Pretty soon it settled down to a steady rain and the air began to cool. It wasn’t long before we were putting clothes back on and looking for robes. As the air relaxed so did we. We climbed back into our beds in a sweet tangle of sleepiness and felt like we had borne witness to something spectacular.
Living in Vermont means we are only three hours from the lights of Broadway, or four to Montreal. Three also to Boston and four to Cape Cod. Moving here has expanded our notions of travel to include quick trips to the beach or slightly longer ones like this one to the Vineyard. The Vineyard is filled with people buying fancy wine corks covered with beads and wampum for people with nothing but time and money on their hands. The island is tiny and wrapped by gorgeous beaches with clay cliffs formed in the last ice age and wide stretches of sand just made for building vast sandy villages with forts and imaginary dragons. The tourist trade with its popped collars and matching pink and green wives and kids might tempt some to forget about the windswept beauty of the island. But not us. We ran straight to Gay Head the day after the storm. The beach was covered in rocks that had washed up in the wind the night before. We picked our way over them and made for the cliffs where the mist hung around and made the whole world look like an old master come to life.
We got home yesterday after a crabby tired car ride and were all revived and thrilled by the green mountains that rose in waves of their own to greet us and welcome us back home. Because it is. Vermont after five years has become home. We all started talking at once about the trip and we knew what it meant. After the saga of the HQCS we had made it through. Oh of course it isn’t completely behind us. But still our gardens are full and bursting. Our animals were giddy with delight that we were home. We all rolled around in the grass and I filled fat vases and the house began to smell like lavender.
Storms wake you up. They remind you that you are not in control. They blow away all the cover and leave behind only what’s real. I am tempted to quote the old spirituals, and say they wash you clean. But on the morning after, even when there are rocks everywhere, the real stuff lingers. You can begin anew. Lessons learned, we five have been picking our way ever since. We are here with gratitude and love. As storms go it was a big one. But we were lucky. We made it through….