Storm

Last night a big piece of our fence blew over in the storm.

I heard the rotting posts snap off about three o’clock in the morning, breaking where the wind hit strongest, funneled towards that single panel by the currents forming around the garage and the house.

I am a little afraid of storms because they make me restless. I long to stretch my arms and feel the wind pick me up by the armpits and hurl me through the air like a cedar bough snapped off from a tree. I had a similar feeling once at the top of a large waterfall, with gravity beckoning me onto the rocks far below. The reckless part of me wants to know what it would be like, to soar through the air.

The certain knowledge that I cannot soar without crashing is all that keeps me on the ground.

After a quick peek to see that the fence had truly come down, I pulled a sweatshirt on over my pajamas and crept into the basement to find my gardening boots. I eased myself out the back door into the storm.

The night was black and cold, and full of flying debris. A grocery bag went looping by under the streetlight, as exotic and beautiful as a dancer. I felt my heart pick up as the wind whipped around the corner of the garage and dove under the black plastic I keep weighted down over the vegetable garden to prevent weeds. The edges rattled in the wind, transformed into the oscillations of a six hundred square foot amoeba.

I could hear the cedar boughs in the hedge behind me, and I turned around to see them stiff with ecstasy, streaming in the wind. The hedge ebbed and flowed like an ocean in heat. With every gust, each branch turned to follow the current, then floated back exhausted when the wind paused to draw another breath.

The fence panel lay in the grass over the embankment, where the wind had dropped it. I couldn’t pick it up against the wind that still gusted without risking that it would again become airborne and crash into the neighbor’s van, so I left it where it was and wandered around the side of the house.

Moonlight appeared sporadically from behind the whipping clouds. I stood alone in the street in my pajamas and sweater, standing in a puddle of light from the street lamp filtered by maples. Leaves from trees up the street drifted into the lee of the house, resting from the wind.

The wind ran in mumbles, building like an incantation. In the lull between gusts, I could stand in the stillness and hear the pressure building down the block. The wind came directly from the ocean, pouring up the hill on all the streets at once. Standing on my corner I could hear it approach, then feel it hit forcefully on my skin and in my bones.

I walked back around to the vegetable garden, and stood again in the tidy concrete of my yard. A flap from the cover over the garden worked loose and tore itself up from the bed, twenty feet of wet black plastic covered in leaf mold rearing up into the night with a snap. It cavorted over the roof of the garage, anchored only at one end. I grappled with a corner, trying to step on it so my weight would pull it down to where I could grab it.

The plastic bucked and twisted under my foot, slapping at my arms and trying to cover my eyes. I cornered enough of it to pull it back into the lee of the garage, and dragged a garbage can over the bulk of it to hold it until morning.

Wet and cold from my battle with the tarp, I went back inside to bed. I opened the venetian blinds in our bedroom window and lay awake for another hour in the striped light, listening to the storm.