So, there’s a storm brewing. Actually, as I write this, a storm is on its way, her name is Hurricane Irene and she dressed in all her finest a few hundred miles off coast, hit the Bahamas, North Carolina and is now careening her way north to New York City and coastal New England.
I am not one to listen to the broadcast news on a regular basis, big news stories inevitably find their way to me when I am sitting at a bar, or a coffee shop or from my clients, so I didn’t hear about the hurricane approaching until yesterday.
NYC has shut down all its mass transit, a first in history. Many roads out to the coastal towns were shut down late last night and everyone is being urged to stock up, be prepared and be safe. I have to admit, I really don’t know what that means. Be safe.
So, I went to the wine store – stocked up on red since I figured that would still be good if the power went out. I was trying to be sensible. I wanted to buy ice-cream but figured that would be silly, so I bought chocolate instead. It’s humid, it might melt, but I’ll probably enjoy it before it does.
What does one ‘purchase’ to be safe? band aids? Condoms? At least they could be used for many purposes I suppose ( like protection from water? Maybe?). I went to Facebook to see what the ‘word on the street’ was, and it seems like chocolate chip cookies (freshly baked of course) and other general forms of junk food have been purchased, in large quantities (one friend admitted to $200 worth!), so I guess I am not completely off the mark. I’ll have to pull out my pink rubber boots from storage, I’m pretty sure they’ll be deemed safe.
I bought extra batteries and, can you believe, I got to the register and they gave me an additional packet – retailers are actually being kind! It’s a 2 for 1 batteries sale during a time when people are desperate for batteries – in this country? Can I attribute it to Obama? Probably not. Whether this storm is as big as predicted, I’ll be all stocked up for other devices that require batteries, and it’s a safe bet I’ll enjoy the storm a lot more.
It’s quite interesting to watch, and hear, people’s reaction to this kind of anticipation. It is clear that the news reports are blasting dire consequences and warnings of an Armageddon, but either people are not very convinced of it’s ferocity of overly panicky about it. I like these moments, where mother nature reminds us who runs this show. Whether she comes slapping through or not, she has people running a little scared. But, some fear is good. It’s good to be reminded that we are not untouchable, that we are still vulnerable and that we do have survival instincts that go beyond finding a phone charger in NYC when you’re out of juice and you’re running to meet your friend for dinner but didn’t write down the address because it was sent on a text.
Still, we’re a long way from the time when our elders watched the migration of animals for signs of impending weather. I wanted to call on that kind of information these last two days, because it’s really hard to trust the hype on the news stations, I generally don’t. I was supposed to head down to Long Island last night for my weekend there. I had clients booked but so many people kept advising me against it, and, since it’s right on the coast, I suppose it was basically like opening my front door to a hurricane knocking. Should I go? Should I not go? So I sent a text to my friend “What’s going on down there with this storm?” “Dunno. I never believe or follow the news” she replied.
I was disappointed, I don’t generally follow that kind of news either, that’s why I contacted her. I wanted old school information, word on the street stuff, fisherman stories and a ‘feeling in the air’. So, I responded with some lame updates of what’s actually happening in the world, you know; never seen before transit closures in NYC, big storm coming, that kind of thing, which she had heard and I got a response “just mass hysteria”. A lot of FOX news stuff I guess.
How far have we moved away from understanding the natural rhythms of our home, our planet, without updates from our news media? My roommate was adamant about this storm, not because of what was being said on the news (we don’t have T.V. to watch it anyway) but because there were no birds on the river, or squirrels in abundance in the park, and the river was unusually high (a new moon is approaching, so that could account for that). Still, I wondered, how did our ancestors predict these storms? Or could they?
Well, yes, and they did it in much the same way my roommate claimed she did (although, truth be told, I am seeing birds flying in this storm!). They watched the animals and trees and rivers. They listened to the wind, or the foreboding lack of. They smelt the air, they felt the temperature and they tasted the leaves. And they did this everyday and picked up nuances and became aware of differences. They also had to catch their dinner each night, build their own houses by hand and they actually had to use their imagination to tell bedtime stories to their kids! So, you know, I’m not saying we go to back to that. However, we could go back to some of that.
As we invest in ‘progress’ and lay concrete and steel and metal structures over land, inject chemicals into our oceans, puncture holes in the skin of the earth, how do we measure our return? Or are we simply short-term investors? What I want to know is what exactly are we progressing toward, when we can’t eat the fish from our oceans because of the mercury levels, or even swim in half of them because of oil spills? What is most disturbing is that this sort of decimation is happening right in front of the mirror on a daily basis.
Women are getting injections to stop their periods because they’re ‘annoying’, the same way we nonchalantly sprayed CFC’s into the air to stop bugs only to create a large hold in the ozone layer. Men and women are pouring chemicals into the lines on their face to hide natural signs of ageing, the same way Monsanto poured millions of pounds of PCB’s into open-pit landfills, denied doing it, only to turn the environment of a community carcinogenic. Hollywood seems to build new noses like most real estate developers build cookie cutter homes. We dump toxic food in our bodies like energy companies dump their waste in our rivers and streams. It doesn’t stop. Or should I ask, when will take heed?
The irony isn’t lost that I am writing on this on a small device, connected to a wireless wave of connection during a hurricane. I think I’ll leave you with this powerful video of Eve Ensler and step out into the rain now.