28 August 2011
Waiting to hear from friends who were in the path of Hurricane Irene (they're fine) had me thinking about our one and only English hurricane that I can remember, in 1987. I was all of 18 and in my second month away from home, and because this was 1987, we didn't have televisions in our rooms, or internet or mobile phones to be aware that there might be a hurricane. Or not, depending on who you listened to. It may have been on the radio, but frankly I was busy discovering cheap rotgut alcohol (oh Thunderbird, beloved drink of penniless students and winos), Indian food and Pink Floyd. Oh, and wondering what to do about being a non-smoker when the pot got passed around (they baked me flapjacks! I mean, I'm sure they would have. But they didn't. Because of course I did not try it. Never. Not even in flapjacks. Because that would be bad. Ahem, so, moving on).
Our halls of residence were in the middle of a beautiful wooded park. It did occur to me that evening that the trees were swaying an awful lot in the wind, but I shrugged my shoulders. Windy. Big deal.
Quite a big deal, as it turned out, although I suspect not on Irene's scale. At breakfast, we found out that we had all slept through our first ever hurricane and some of us went out to look.
Our baby trees around the edge of the park were all bent and sad. One had fallen over, and being fine upstanding youths, who never smoked pot or ate interesting flapjacks, we thought, poor Sad Fallen Tree. We will save you, Tree! Together we pushed Sad Fallen Tree up, to stand next to the path once again and have a new chance at life. Proud of our efforts, we moved on in our quest to explore our wind-ravaged land and offer help, or at least be nosy.
Of course, a hundred yards up the road, we realised that Sad Fallen Tree might fall over again, and this time might hit someone on the way down. We raced back down the road and pushed over Sad Fallen Tree again, so that it didn't kill someone in its second tragic demise.
Being a fine upstanding youth is hard sometimes. You might even look like a vandal. Just as long as you don't get caught eating the flapjacks.