No Sugar Added: Please, leaf me alone
As a nice girl from northern New Jersey who, until a shocking act of rebellion at the onset of her college career, spelled her nickname with a “y,” there is no way I can allow anything other than Hurricane Sandy to be the basis of this week’s musings.
“Sandy leaves devastation and heartache in her path.”
“Getting back on your financial feet after Sandy.”
Combine these headline with private messages from a myriad of men I have known, expressing such sweet sentiments as, “Well of course the storm of the century would have your name on it!” and “You’re ruining my sailing vacation down in South Carolina” and my ego has taken quite a beating this past week.
Now I know how all of the women named Irene felt. Or Katrina.
Not that I’m whining. I feel awful about the entire thing. I mean, we didn’t even lose power here in our little coastal Maine community. Considering the fact that we generally lose power when someone spits on one of the electrical wires in our neighborhood, this is nothing short of a miracle of religious proportion.
The photos of the destruction in my home state, and the images of the nearly destroyed seaside towns where I spent many of my childhood, teenage and college-age vacations, make my heart ache. I empathize deeply with my fellow Garden Staters, whose memories of rides on the Seaside Heights roller-coaster are the only things that remain, now that the roller-coaster has been washed into the sea.
The photos of the piers torn to pieces and amusement park rides half-submerged in salt water are eerie and make me feel the way I felt the first time I saw the movie "Planet of the Apes," with the Statue of Liberty in pieces on the shore.
Clearly, the destruction of the icons that represent our “identities” in the broader sense can touch us deeply and shake us at our very core.
I was actually in New Jersey and New York City the weekend before the arrival of the storm. I literally hopped into my car as the wind was beginning to kick up and half an hour into my trip northward, drizzle started hitting the windshield.
I felt like the reverse of one of those kooky “storm-chaser” people – and was happy to be running away from it. Especially since my name had been stamped on it.
As my always lovely (and loving) mother, Louise, drove me to catch my train into the city a couple days prior to the arrival of the storm in the NY metropolitan area, we were both taken aback by multiple sightings of a phenomenon that seemed to go against human intelligence: men with leaf-blowers.
As the car radio spewed reports of the approaching hurricane, there were people with the XY chromosome combination wearing hearing protection devices and using noisy, gas-powered machines to blow autumnal leaves into neat piles.
Perhaps their earplugs were preventing them from being aware that there were 100-mph winds en route that would soon be blowing their leaves from New Jersey to Michigan.
Now, I am not a meteorologist, nor am I a professional landscaper, but my initial thoughts upon seeing these leaf-blowing men were, first, you would never see a woman using a leaf-blower on the brink of the scheduled arrival of a hurricane. And second, these men are either incredibly stupid, or they are swindlers with suburban clients who are equally stupid for allowing them to blow the leaves off of their lawns on the brink of the scheduled arrival of a hurricane.
Is it just me, or is there something inherently wrong with this scenario?
As I said, I made it back to our home in Maine just in time, and am so very grateful that we were spared any destruction. Of course, my leaves are still on my lawn, and I’m sure a few of my neighbors would like to see me develop an unhealthy addiction to a leaf-blower. Or a rake.
But I’m afraid even my namesake “superstorm” and its ensuing headlines aren’t capable of making me feel quite that much guilt.