Hallowe’en: A Nightmare

Where have I been lately? Why hasn’t there been a new post here since October 28th? That’s simple. We’ve been living our own Hallowe’en nightmare.

The snow began last Saturday afternoon, while we were happily watching Mozart’s Don Giovanni in HD Opera across the river in Hadley. Wet, thick, heavy snow it was, making our drive back to Northampton a little tricky. Driving along Route 9 we discovered that traffic lights were out and police were directing traffic at important intersections. Not a good omen, we decided. But when we crossed to the west bank of the river there were lights and we seemed to be home free.

We made dinner, we ate it, we piled the dishes in the dishwasher, we turned it on, and then —- the lights went out. And stayed out, for 47 long, dark, cold hours. Fortunately the Meeting House in our community has a generator, and so, during the next two long cold dark days we could go there to get a respite, with light and warmth and hot tea and coffee. Soup and snacks and crackers and bagels and PB&J began to make appearances as time crept slowly by–  Sleeping in our dark cold house was okay, because we piled on two down comforters, even adding socks and caps. (No wonder our ancestors wore nightcaps.)

The wonderful staff at Lathrop stepped into the breach (thank you, Julie, Lenny, Diane, Roxy, Liz, you are all our Local Heroes). By Hallowe’en eve, instead of handing out goodies to trick or treat-ers, we were having hamburgers and hot dogs cooked outside on the grill, and the fancy sheet cake contributed by a local supermarket was just being passed for dessert when — our street lamps went on!

That thrill, though, was tempered by the devastation wreaked by the storm.  A foot of snow, unprecedented in October, heavy snow at that, caused our deciduous trees, mostly still canopied with leaves, to collapse under the weight. Broken and twisted trees brought down power lines, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power. Some unlucky ones are still without power as I type.

Our streets are heaped with piles of debris, awful and unphotogenic. I show you just  two images, which remind me of the damage a tornado leaves behind when it scours a landscape. This time it was snow, not wind, but the scouring was as thorough. We will be mourning these deaths for a long long time.

An open wound gaping:

Decades to grow, destroyed in a day — A Hallowe’en trick we won’t soon forget.

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35 Responses to Hallowe’en: A Nightmare

  1. wow. that’s a lot of snow, especially this early in the year. the poor trees! We had fierce winds with rain instead of snow and the 100 year willow tree beside my office is broken in three places now. sigh. Glad to know YOU are safe though.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Thanks very much, Joss. You know, then, how sad the loss of a tree is.
      I saw from Rebekah’s blog that the storm had turned to rain and wind by the time it got to you all up north. Just as well.

      Like

  2. Christine Grote says:

    I’m so sorry you have to go through this, although enduring something like this and pulling together can be an enriching experience. We had an early snowstorm like this in October once. We didn’t have electricity for a week. We had to move in with some friends for a while. We had four young children at the time. The loss of such beautiful trees is devastating.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Actually you’re right, Christine. Because our homes were essentially uninhabitable for long periods, we spent lots of time at the meeting house, and did meet so many people from the community whom we hadn’t known before. That was the silver lining!
      I can’t even imagine four young kids and no electricity for a week. Thank heavens for friends.
      But the loss of the trees IS devastating.

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  3. Pauline says:

    The loss of trees is devastating. Shattered trees are everywhere and limbs litter roadsides and yards. Here where I am the power was off for two nights and a day. Folks in nearby CT towns are still without power. I am glad to hear that you weathered the storm as well as you did.

    Having lived for three years in Northern Vermont without electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing toughened me for such outages. My youngest recalled some of our Yankee ingenuity and employed it herself, saving a refrigerator full of food with snow-stuffed baggies. The snow is melting rapidly under rising temperatures but I’m readying myself for the next one, making sure I have a ready supply of candles, matches, and flashlights. When I know a storm is approaching, I fill containers with water enough to last for days of washing and drinking. I have a gas stove so if the power does go out, I can warm up some of that wash water and can still cook meals. I’ve learned how to be frugal, a virtue that comes in handy when one has to do without.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      I can’t even imagine living without electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing. But it’s how people lived for a very long time — like most of history —
      I always thought you were the quintessential New Englander, Pauline, and everything I learn about you just reinforces that impression. I am an effete city girl from Brooklyn (no matter where I live or how long, in a way I will always be from Brooklyn) and so I admire your ingenuity extravagantly.
      The one good thing that happened because of the storm is that, since our community meeting house became a refuge, we got to meet our neighbors in a more intimate way than we ever would have otherwise. Silver lining!
      (Is there really another storm brewing this weekend? 😦

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  4. Rebekah says:

    Oh, I’m so sorry … about the trees and all! How different that storm turned out! 47 hours without power is an awfully long time! Can’t remember experiencing that since the 70’s, when our whole town was without power for a week! Where we lived in QC, we had power outages but they were short-lived, thankfully.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Yes, years of living on Long Island — lots of trees and overhead wires and ice storms — I’m familiar enough with outages. But short term. Two days felt pretty long term! I’d just as soon skip any repeat performance —

      Like

  5. beyondanomie says:

    I can’t conceive being without power/heat for that long, especially in the middle of that kind of weather. Sorry to hear about the trees too. I remember a freakishly bad autumn storm blowing down an ancient tree opposite where I lived while I was growing up. Even today, when I revisit that area, I notice its absence as it was such a fixture of my childhood.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      You understand! The trees are living things, I was going to say “living people,” and the sense of loss is profound. I don’t particularly think of myself as a nature lover, you know, someone who rhapsodizes about nature (like a Lake poet) — but the loss of the trees is devastating. So many of them, they were so beautiful —
      Thanks for the comment and the empathy, Chris.

      Like

  6. thirdhandart says:

    So sorry about the trees that were destroyed in the snow storm. But, so glad that you’re ok and that you were able to find a little respite at the Meeting House.

    Like

  7. Patti Kuche says:

    Welcome back from the long dark nights! Those poor trees do look as though they have suffered the heavy hand of nature’s brute force but so relieved to hear that you are all well!

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  8. Glad you are safe and back to blogging. The storm did a lot of damage in my neighborhood, but fortunately we didn’t lose power. It’s only 138 days until Spring.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Tree, that is the happiest thought I’ve heard recently!
      Somehow 138 days doesn’t sound nearly as long as 4 – 5 months — I’ll keep that number glowing in my head.
      Sorry about your storm damage also, I know you have trees and flowering shrubs and it’s so hard when they’re destroyed —

      Like

  9. lynnwiles says:

    We were so fortunate in Boston to get barely a dusting, when west of here saw nearly 2 feet of snow and major power outages. This is another reason why I like the sea, it can temper storms.

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  10. Smallpeace says:

    Sounds like you’re up and running again, though I do send condolences regarding your trees. So sad. I spent many hours slapping at the weighted limbs of our apple tree trying to unburden its branches. I think its going to be ok. I love your first image, by the way. It reminds me of Gregory Crewdson. Eerie lighting. Very atmospheric—and theatrical!

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Thanks for referencing Gregory Crewdson for the first image. I love his stuff —
      The scene really was so theatrical and eerie it almost looked phoney! That was the last time for beautiful, though. It was all downhill — down trees — from Sunday morning on.
      Hope your apple tree makes it!

      Like

  11. Stef says:

    Ugh. I’m so sorry to hear of your misadventure. 😦 The loss (both short-term and long-term) are frustrating and even depressing – and yet, hope exists. If New Orleans and Japan and the rest can recover after devastation, you all can, too. Not easy, but do-able.

    In the meantime, here’s a BIG round of many cheers to the local heroes who helped in the time of need!

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      There are actually plenty of people around who are STILL without power, light, heat, etc. five days into the mission. So we’re grateful —
      And yes, big rounds of cheers for our local heroes. There’s also a sense of community that actually got strengthened — yes, we all got through this together —and that’s good.

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  12. tms says:

    The first thing I saw of this post was the picture, and I thought, oh, wow! It has a very own atmosphere, as noted by Smallpeace (I thought of Crewdson too).

    Then I read the story and did not really know what to say but: I am sorry about your calamity … and also about the trees.

    Looking at my lines I realize that my reaction is all about context — which is not a new insight but never fails to amaze me.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      I can understand that — how would we survive without context? Or at any rate, survive in some kind of even spirits?
      Smallpeace’s observation about Crewdson was most welcome, both because I like his work, and because it provided a context (as you say!) for something otherwise random and meaningless.
      Relating things to art is a great comfort.
      Thanks for your comment, Tobias.
      Friends are perhaps the greatest comfort.

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      • tms says:

        That, and I was also trying to say that your writing put the picture into a context that is very different from the artistic context – your first picture refers to both art (to playing, as Schiller would have it) and to everyday life (and very serious matters, evidently). In other words, the picture’s meaning in your and your family’s life is far less “harmless” as one (or I) might have thought at first glance. It is a case of deceptive beauty … And this (dangerous?) ambiguity sort of fascinates me.

        You are right about friends of course!

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        • Touch2Touch says:

          Ah!
          Yes, I see. The beauty of that first image — deceptive, certainly. When I took the photo, the disaster has not yet happened: the trees are standing, the light is burning.
          Crewdson’s photographs are beautiful — but always with a sinister subtext — which only exists here in retrospect. So in that sense — different.
          The disconnect between “art” and content occurs very often — How does one deal with stunningly beautiful photos of, for instance, 9/11? They exist. Art is made from everything. Hurricanes, floods, cruelty — I think you are right, the ambiguity certainly can be dangerous. The aesthetic trumping human values? Questions.
          I selected the most torn and twisted of my tree photos to be a shock in contrast to that idyllic snow scene —

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  13. Touch2Touch says:

    Since I keep thinking of qualifications and additions to the conversation, I can only conclude that an adequate discussion would involve much time, a cozy fire, roasted chestnuts and good beer.

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  14. Louise says:

    Hi! I found you through Cecelia’s Inspired Vision blog. We went through the same storm in CT, but our home luckily never lost power. I know many people who still are waiting for the power to come back. It’s funny the things that we take for granted when we don’t have them.

    Your community sounds amazing. Thank goodness you were able to find a place to stay warm.

    Cheers,
    Louise

    Like

    • Touch2Touch says:

      It certainly wasn’t fun. But that strong sense of support from community — it’s amazing. Almost worth it?
      Thanks so much for visiting, Louise. That’s also a strong sense of support! 🙂

      Like

  15. mkmercurio says:

    That heavy wet snow storm hit us earlier in the week and our trees – full of green leaves couldn’t take the weight and came down good and hard. Then one week later, another storm. I am dreading Wednesdays!

    I love when the power goes out because I am free from technology but I soon learn that I want to get on my pc, turn on a light, make some soup and then realize how connected I am to the grid.

    Great post – good to hear you’re back in the light again!

    Like

  16. 2e0mca says:

    It’s great to read how the local community all pulled together in the crisis. Sad to see the damage to the trees though. Lets hope that’s your lot of bad weather for this winter.

    Best wishes,

    Martin

    Like

    • Touch2Touch says:

      It was a tad discouraging, after last winter’s severity and longevity, to have this one happening in OCTOBER.
      I hope, as you do, but am thinking of adopting the English adage (is it still?), Mustn’t grumble.
      Grumbling — I testify from personal experience — doesn’t help.
      Thanks for the visit, Martin. Always nice to see you here 🙂

      Like

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