Irene’s Visit

Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene has maximized my time and thoughts for a while now. When potentially damaging weather events are forecast and you live on a country road in rural woods with no major services nearby – closest fresh milk is five miles and nearest gas station is eight miles away – you learn to prepare for multiple days without public utilities. We stored ample fuel to run the generator – lovingly called The Beast – and propane for the gas grill for a few days, drinking water (in case the generator broke and could not run the well pump), non-perishable foods, batteries and flashlights, and any other necessity we could think of. I froze all the peaches I had picked earlier in the week, canned pickles, relishes, and butters, and picked as many veggies and blossoms as possible.

Irene hit. Some trees, like this part of an old, split- trunk giant did not stand up well. (The blurriness of this photo is due to Irene’s wind blowing leaves and trees.)


But The Beast provided us, family, and some neighbors with refrigeration, some lights and the ability to charge cell phones, showers and drinking water for 7 1/2 days.

Now, with Irene gone it’s time to say good-by, and to appreciate our fortune.

We lost some mature woodland trees, but the monster oak slated to come down via chain saw is … whew … still towering over the bedroom end of our house. Other’s in Irene’s path were not as lucky.


Our house has no flood, rain, or wind damage. Other’s in Irene’s path were not as fortunate.

For the most part people understood that the conditions they faced were state-wide. Yes, having no electricity begins to get old after a couple of days, but I was really taken aback when family members, with workplace access to regular news, told me of Tuesday’s complaints by Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei’s that some Greenwich customers were still without electricity; that 16 utility crews working in Greenwich was not enough; that Greenwich’s “role as financial center and tax base in the state should be taken into account when CL&P resources are being allocated.” –

As of the Tuesday immediately after the storm – when Tesei’s town had just 28 percent without power – more than 90 percent of our town had no power and neighboring towns were completely dark. There was not a utility truck in sight.  Our town began to get power back on Wednesday when a few utility trucks showed up. Our power returned Sunday afternoon thanks to utility workers from Oklahoma.

I can’t help but wonder if Tesei really feels that tax money from Greenwich carries more weight, more value, than tax money from other parts of Connecticut. The last time I checked my dollar is worth just as many pennies as his, but hey, I was in a news black-out for a week so maybe things changed!

Sorry … had to get that off my chest.

My gardens did not completely escape Irene’s wrath. The hydrangea paniculata and a six foot tall buddleia that looked like this on August 15 …


were blown down by Irene’s winds. (Had they fallen the Tuesday after Irene I would have blamed the hot air blowing from Greenwich’s First Selectman!)

I’m not surprised at the loss of the hydrangea’s demise … I even picked many of its blossoms before the storm. It’s roots had been victimized by voles during last winter and it had developed an ominous lean, as you can see in a photo taken in June.


But it bravely flowered, so I intended to let it hold it’s Pisa-like stance for as long as it was able. I was more surprised at the loss of the buddleia, but perhaps it also had vole damage. Either way, both have left room for me to try something else.

Like I said, we are lucky.

My heart goes out to the people in Irene’s path who lost loved ones, homes, and businesses and are still dealing with the wrath of extreme winds and rain. I also feel for those with incinerated homes from Texas’ wildfires and all who have to rebuild after natural disasters. By comparison, a week without utilities is a breeze.

Many thanks for the kind thoughts posted by blogging buddies during my absence. I plan to re-establish the Gardening Oops (GOOPs) meme on October 1.

To my hydrangea and buddleia, thanks for the foliage, the blooms, and the pleasure of watching your visits from buzzing bees and flitting butterflies. And, finally, Good-night, Irene.

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No GOOPs for now

Yesterday, September 1, would have been Gardening Oops – GOOPs – Day at joene’s garden but with power coming from a generator, no cable, no phone, and no Internet September’s GOOPs could not happen. I’m writing this post from my son’s house … his power returned last night.

I don’t expect our power to return until late Tuesday, Sept. 6. Hoping Internet will return at the same time.

Does it matter whether Irene was a hurricane or tropical storm when she hit southern Connecticut? Not to me. She packed a punch regardless of what she was. See you again when Irene’s punch heals.

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Hurricane prep

All predictions have hurricane Irene hitting Connecticut sometime after midnight Saturday. The past few days have been filled with preparations of one sort or another. Of course, we stored away outdoor furniture, wind chimes, the gas grill, and garden ornamentation that would blow in high winds, tools, and the many potted plants around the house. Some plants went into the garage, some went under the deck, and some came inside. We moved the biggest potted plants against a retaining wall and hope this will give them some protection or at least keep them from blowing around. It’s hard to predict what winds up to 75 mph will do to such things.

I harvested as many veggies as possible. Many will get eaten during the next few days. The hot peppers, however, had to be canned. And since I had so many green tomatoes I canned green tomato relish.  The cucumbers I bought at a farm stand on Wednesday had to become pickles and relish. I was not going to let the fantastic basil growing in the gardens get battered by hurricane winds …half of it is now pesto, some went to a neighbor, and some is sitting in a vase in water waiting for me to get to it another day. The ton of peaches picked during Wednesday’s farm visit are now sliced and stored in the freezer.


All the hydrangeas are cut and resting safely in vases all around the house and other blossoms are cut and in water. I figure I’ll want something to do to keep my mind off the wind and rain expected to stay with us for most of tomorrow. What better activity than arranging bouquets of flowers from the garden?

Irene is acting much like a previous hurricane – Gloria – that hit CT in 1985. We lost power for six days. Irene is following the same track, but is larger and expected to stay for a longer visit. We have a generator, but if you don’t see any posts from me for the next week, blame Irene. Living in the woods, hurricane force winds, driving rains and electrical wires don’t always get along well.

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