The children were six feet away in the sandbox, pouring sand in each other’s hair and catching tiny bugs. Armed with a caulking gun, I ascended the ladder.
I had already cleaned out the old caulk and cleaned the gaps of debris with a dry paintbrush. With a trembling hand (not only am I not keen on heights, but the instructions on the tube of caulk was very clear on the fact that this is permanent), I applied a bead of caulk to the gaps to re-seal our sunroom roof. On the first panel, I forgot to smooth the caulk into the gap. I inspected it after I’d done the other two the proper way, and while it didn’t look pretty, it seemed to be filling the gap just fine.
Before I started working, I checked the weather online to make sure I had at least three hours before it was supposed to rain, the minimum curing time for water exposure listed on the tube of caulk. I learned that we might just get hit with Hurricane Irene this weekend. That gave me a little something to ponder while perched above the sunroom.
The last hurricane I was even close to being in was Floyd back in 1999 in North Carolina. Hurricane Dennis had come through about a week before. My mom was on the phone from her home in Ohio before each, begging me and my then-fiancee to evacuate, although no such order had been given by the authorities in North Carolina. These were people who knew hurricanes. If they said stay, we were staying.
This was in my early 20’s and was one of the first times I had suggested that the authority of a government agency might supersede that of my mother. I had a vague sense of doom as a result of not following my mother’s directions, but I did my best to act like a grown-up.
We put exes of masking tape across the windows of our apartment. We weren’t sure why we were supposed to do this, but other people were doing it, so we figured we might as well. That night, we slept in the hallway in case tree branches came through the windows of our bedroom during the storm.
As it turned out, both hurricanes just skirted our area, drenching us with torrential downpours but leaving us largely untouched by the high winds. The most exciting thing that happened was just buckets and buckets of water falling. It was thrilling to watch from our screened-in porch. The cat was not impressed.
Less than a month later, our families and friends gathered for our wedding. A coworker was getting married the same day. They’d booked a location on the coast and had to relocate the wedding when the original location was destroyed by the storm surge. Our wedding site a couple of hours inland was fine and, luckily, not flooded.
When I met my maid of honor at the airport after her flight from California, she said, “You sure have a lot of swampland around here. I could see it from the airplane.”
“That wasn’t swampland three weeks ago,” I explained.
These are the things on my mind as I think about the possibility of a hurricane in Massachusetts. That and the story the neighbor told about how there used to be a huge tree in our yard but that it was brought down by Hurricane Bob (I think) 20 years ago. Our neighbor said the tree blocked the street for a week before they finally got someone out to cut it up and cart it away.
Right now it’s almost as hard to imagine a hurricane as it is to imagine everything covered in snow. The weather this week is absolutely perfect. We keep every window in the house open all day long. We eat every meal in the sunroom with the windows removed so it’s just a covered, screened-in porch.
We’ll see what Irene does when she gets here.
At the very least, I should know by Monday if I did a good enough job caulking the sunroom roof.