Goodnight is right!!! Oh dear God, hurricane fever has been here for days and NOW, Irene is almost here.
It all started for me on Thursday. Peter arrived late in the afternoon and I was still at the Tea Room finishing up and we decided to go to the store and pick up a few Finley items such as whole milk and orange juice without pulp. Once I arrived at Wegman’s two things became instantly apparent; Finley probably wasn’t coming to the Jersey Shore and Hurricane Irene was on her way – have you ever been in a major grocery store and seen all the bread shelves EMPTY?? I mean EMPTY! We did get milk because after all, milk is PERISHABLE and everyone knows you are supposed to stock up on non-perishable foods. I think all of Monmouth County is planning on eating Pb & J’s all weekend!!!
And so it began….no news except hurricane news, talk, talk, talk, only about the impending storm and plans A, B, and C formulated in each household. Who was staying and who was going, that was the really BIG QUESTION. My thoughts immediately were to stay and I think at that point I wasn’t really comprehending the breadth and depth of what was to come. I said, “well the apartment is safe and the cottage is vulnerable, so I need to be here to protect it.” Peter thought about this and agreed. We really didn’t think we would be in real danger, just that house might be in some and perhaps if we were here, we could prevent and/or protect. The thought of being in NYC and watching the happenings and wondering what was happening to my sweet La Vie en Rose was quite disconcerting, so I said, “We’re staying”. Thursday night seems much like any other night. Peter even went to get me ice cream.
Friday dawned sunny and bright and the buzz was everywhere. Some neighbors immediately started hauling in porch furniture and tying down everything else. Mmmmm should we go after all? Several conversations later, it was decided that Finley would be better off in NYC with her Daddy and her baby sister. Chiara HAD to go to the middle of New Jersey to attend a wedding on Saturday; she is a Bridesmaid. I thought she would never get off “the Island” which was probably evacuating itself westward to the City. But she made it, dropped them off and kept on going. I hope for the bride’s sake some people come to this wedding.
I don’t hold out much hope though because the NEWS which was now broadcasting 24/7 alternated between Governor Christie declaring a State of Emergency on THURSDAY and Mayor Bloomberg saying the City was in the cross hairs of the storm and therefore, the subway and bus systems would be shut down, the news just got more dire by the hour.
By Friday afternoon, Peter and I had packed up the back yard furniture, put away the umbrella, turned the glass top table upside down, removed bird feeders, and with bungee cords anchored the trash cans and some chairs. I moved the upstairs porch furniture into the guest room making my tiny cottage just that much more smaller. Things were beginning to feel weird!
Let’s go to the beach! It was 4:00 the sun was still somewhat high in the sky so we took off to get a good long look-see at our beach not knowing when we would see it next or in what condition it would be. There was police tape across the entrances to the beach so we walked a ways to Bradley Beach and got onto the beach there. We took our chairs and our books and sat down near the water’s edge for about an hour or so enjoying the last of the sunshine, sharing the experience with about 5 other people as far as the eye could see. The tide was extraordinarily high which was the result of new moon. Well clearly we were illegal and I heard later on that if you got caught going into the water, you could get a $500 fine. Of course Peter had to push the envelope a bit and get his bathing suit wet which caused the young ticket taker on the boardwalk to come rushing down to inform us that the “main lifeguard” sent him down to tell us we could NOT be in the water. Why didn’t someone tell the surfers that? As we left the beach, two young surfer dudes, boards under arms and a young girl passed us on their way to the shore. The young girl looked at Peter and shook her head and rolled her eyes. Governor Christie told everybody to get off the beach in Asbury Park, they had enough tan, now get out!
Friday night we had dinner out because it would probably be our last good meal once the power went out and surely it will, they say. And in New York City, Broadway was shut down, the subways system cut back and Battery Park City under mandatory evacuation! We received numerous calls imploring us to return to NYC and truly we vacillated so many times I couldn’t tell you what the number was, but something has kept us here. It didn’t help that the beach town north of us and two towns to the south of us were under mandatory evacuation, and the Governor reversed the highways so you could only leave and not come, they even made the tolls free. There is a bit of foolhardy adventurism at play, the swagger that comes from having toughed it out and not the least, the need to be here to protect the homestead. At 11:30pm an email alert came through from Neptune Township informing us that Broadway from Ocean to Pilgrim Pathway was under mandatory evacuation: WOW we are two houses in from Pilgrim Pathway. I sure hope the storm surge knows where it is supposed to stop. Tomorrow is another day and Irene is expected to hit the Jersey Shore in the early evening.