By the time this article goes to press, Hurricane Sandy, presumably, will be over. At the moment, however, I'm sitting in the midst of it, and honestly, it's not too bad.
So far, the storm hasn't conjured up more than a good deal of rain and some whistling wind in my area of Pennsylvania, and hopefully it will stay that way. But even with the weather holding steady around here, most of my friends and family stayed home from work today. Schools were closed; businesses were opening late and shutting their doors early. Everyone has already bought all the milk and bread off the shelves, so what's the point of keeping the stores open? I think everyone around here recognizes the truth, though: today, we got a freebie.
Because really: people are still driving on the roads. There isn't any flooding, and the wind hasn't carried anyone away yet. By tonight it might be a different story, but today wasn't much worse than a particularly nasty rainstorm.
As I drank some hot tea and cozied up to my computer to write this article, I began thinking of all the other storms - the ones that showed up and the ones that never materialized - in my life. There was the time my middle school closed down prematurely for two days based on the threat of a hurricane, only to have it miss us by several miles and yield a gorgeous couple of days for rollerblading (the preferred sport of all middle schoolers at the time) and mocking the hastiness of our administration.
Then there was the time violent flooding sent all of us middle school kids home hours early. A friend's mom dropped me off at home, but I only realized I'd forgotten my key after she left. I spent three hours soaking wet on my back porch. That was a freebie I would have sooner given up.
Finally, there was the Storm of the Century: the snowstorm of 1996. My brother and I enjoyed at least a week off from school, sledding the peaks and valleys of our driveway, every night watching movies and waiting for Mom to come downstairs and tell us that school had been cancelled for tomorrow, yet again. And again.
I hope that everyone in the path of Hurricane Sandy stays safe. For those of us who are simply reaping the dubious rewards of Frankenstorm, let's realize what we've got here: a hurrication.
Claire wrote that on Monday night. I'm writing this on Tuesday morning. We lost power here in Havertown for about three hours last night. This morning the Halloween decorations are the worse for wear. Otherwise, all is well. Judging from TV news reports, the Big Apple and points north fared far less well. God bless them.
The Greens, of course, are in their glory. One outfit sent me an email yesterday, under the guise of providing Red Cross contact information. The message then continued, "Sandy is setting records because our climate is warmer and weirder than it's ever been. I wanted to write again in the face of this storm to pass along a photo that lots of folks have shared on our Facebook page - it's a good antidote to the anxiety of waiting around for the storm to arrive.
"Yesterday, as hundreds of thousands of people up and down the East Coast began leaving their homes because of the storm, a small group of friends from 350 New York, Occupy Wall St. and the anti-fracking movement gathered in Times Square to send a message to our politicians and the media:
"It's time to end the silence about climate change, and connect the dots between extreme weather and our warming planet."
hese groups may be absolutely right. Thing is, at least in this old man's opinion, we are too far down the climate-change road to turn back or even make much of a difference. Even if by some strange magic America could cease using fossil fuels today, China, India and the rest of Asia would go right on burning them. Bottom line: we have no realistic chance of halting whatever climate change is coming.
On the other hand, we North Americanos do have a very realistic opportunity to become energy independent. How? By exploiting the Canadian oil sands. By exploiting the shale oil of the Dakotas. (Whoever wins on Tuesday had better get that pipeline built down to New Orleans.) By using advanced technologies to suck the last drops from wells once thought to be no longer commercially viable. By fracking the gas out of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio. And by digging coal.
Make no mistake - as the politicians love to say - Barrack has my vote yet again on Tuesday, as he did four years ago. But Romney has the right of it on one issue at least: national security depends on energy independence. And energy independence is within our reach.
If that means more and meaner Sandies for Claire's generation, I believe it's a price worth paying.
Meanwhile, Claire, enjoy your hurrication!