Monday, October 31, 2011

The Halloween Octo'easter by Margaret Hart

In thinking about this week's blog, I couldn't escape my thoughts about the Nor'easter that slammed the New England states this past weekend on the eve of Halloween.  The network news covered it, but it was the countless posts and pictures on facebook that really told the story:  there were children in snowsuits posing with snowmen and scarecrows alike, pumpkins with snow beards, and tree branches hanging like so many cobwebs over streets, parked cars, and "haunted" houses.

We all heard it was coming, but no one wanted to believe it. So we all went about our business on Saturday, and then all of a sudden, it hit.  Giant clumps of cold, wet snow falling rapidly from the sky.  Traffic ground to a halt as it tends to do at the first big snow of the year. I started receiving email alerts about Halloween events that were cancelled. By mid afternoon, tree limbs were hanging so low, heavy with wet snow, that they literally hit my windshield as I hurried home from errands. Tree limbs had snapped and fallen across streets in my neighborhood. 

By evening, the lights had flicked on and off a few times in our house and we held our breath each time. We hunkered down, popped in the "Great Pumpkin" video and just bedtime, we were astonished we still had power as the predicted winds had picked up and the trees were really swaying.  We jumped when we heard a loud thump, thinking it was a tree branch hitting the roof, but then realized it was clumps of heavy, wet snow falling off trees.
We live in a densely wooded area and trees are always a problem for power lines. So we made a reservation at a local hotel, just in case, and got one of the last available rooms. By morning, we awoke in our own beds to learn that some 800,000 people in our state of Connecticut were without power, and our governor had declared a state of emergency. New Jersey and New York had not fared well, either.
In most storms, we are among the first to lose power and the last to have it restored. But by some stroke of luck, we had made it through this storm, still had power, and thankfully, no damage to our home. I turned on the television news only to learn that the storm had wreaked havoc throughout New England. Several million people were without power along the east coast. And in Connecticut, our governor announced at a press conference that citizens should expect prolonged delays in restoration. Needless to say, people were not happy.

While I wasn't thrilled with the prospect of a storm in October, I was relieved that this Nor'easter, rather, this "Octo'easter," spared us this time around. I felt bad for all the people who lost power and remain without it as I write. It's a shame that Halloween parties and events were cancelled. Many school districts in neighboring towns cancelled school on Monday (and beyond), and some communities cancelled trick-or-treating out of safety concerns due to downed trees and power lines.
But it was Halloween, and determined moms were finding creative ways to make it a fun holiday for their kids and trying not to let Mother Nature get the best of them.  Facebook chatter switched from "12 hours and counting with no power" to "come to our neighborhood to trick or treat."  Resilient moms (and dads) in "dark" neighborhoods just moved their troops to neighborhoods where the pumpkins were glowing and the bat wings were flapping.   
In the end, this Octo'easter will likely be a Halloween that our kids will remember not because of the power outage and broken trees, or even the postponed or cancelled parties; they will remember it because it snowed on Halloween. Kids are great that way!

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