As I walked through the city today, I saw a handwritten sign on a fruit vendor's stand that read "Come on Irene" -- a play on that old tune "Come On Eileen".
The hype around Hurricane Irene is hard to put into words; but with the massive media center that New York City is, the shrill "news" deafens logic, it churns and blasts everyone.
Most Long Island Railroad trains out east were already canceled even though the skies were clear. I found one train that was running on a "modified schedule" and jumped on it. It was sparsely crowded, usually it is standing room only.
The hype came with us, though. Throughout the train people nervously joked about the storm. I jumped off the train at my stop and walked through town. The whole place was much quieter than usual as people have fled. The grocery store has plywood all over the windows next to a big handwritten sign that reads "Open".
To catch the last sunset for a few days I walk down to the ocean. The mighty Atlantic greets me with a big grin. There are no wild currents but the water is fat. Big rollers come in steadily. Clean, beautifully shaped waves nearshore and another row out a little deeper.
I swim out past the first break and float toes up, bobbing up and down on the swells like a sea otter (I wish). The sky above is wide open and clouds stretch across it like a thin curtain. As the great ball of fire drops behind the horizon, the clouds gradually, imperceptibly turn from blue-white to purple-red much to my delight.
Floating there, I look at my little toes, my frail humanity, the sky, the gorgeous and wonderful sea around me, and I am home.
As I come off the beach, a beige toad hops nearby in the low dune making small marks in the sand. I greet him and wonder if he has prepared for the storm.
Irene will be here in about thirty six hours. I'm sure she will give us rain and lots of it. There may be seriously high winds, too. I hope to stand on the beach and watch mother nature remind us who's boss.
Come on Irene.