No Sugar Added: Any port, or garden, in a storm

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There’s nothing like a little hurricane to separate the men from the boys, the women from the girls, and the level-headed from the crazy.

Being a woman who finds little reason to follow the weather (I prefer to open my eyes in the morning and allow mother nature to surprise me), I am often in the relative dark about potentially important events such as hurricanes, until a few days before their arrival.

In all of my decades of East Coast living, the most I’d ever done to prepare for storms had been to close windows, charge electronic devices, and perhaps tie down a lawn chair or two. Finding comfort in the fact that we always have matches on hand to light our sizable candle collection, granola bars in the cupboard, and a few bottles of Pellegrino on top of the fridge, I’ve found no reason to take more drastic measures.

Of course, that was before a storm blew a sizable tree onto our house. Having a 40- or 50-foot conifer land on your roof at midnight can change your perspective on storm preparation. Considerably.

But even with the tree disaster, I shall still never become one of those kooky “storm people.” You know who I mean: the people who make multiple, desperate rushes to the grocery stores, cleaning out the non-perishable aisles. Hogging all of the bottled water, peanut butter, Doritos, Ding-Dongs, and D batteries.

With a crazed look in their eyes, they are frequently featured in pre-storm TV news clips (leaving the rest of us to wonder whether they are privy to secret information about Armageddon). Their shopping carts overfloweth, and you suspect that were anyone to get too close to their V-8 stash, they’d pull a handgun from the pocket of their slicker.

These people are not stable.

What is it about an impending storm that intrigues us so? What primal force lies within us, making us simultaneously fear the awesome energy of mother nature, remain riveted to The Weather Channel for 24 consecutive hours, and be visibly disappointed when the promised mega-storm is downgraded, peters out early, or reroutes and misses us entirely?

My boys woke up on the day of Irene’s arrival, looked outside through the window at the drizzle and relatively tame winds, and sighed at the lack of drama. “Oh, man, is this it? We wasted the entire day yesterday working around here, and all we get is this?”

Like kids anticipating gifts under the tree on Christmas morning, they had gone to bed imagining opening their eyes to an adventurous scenario, combining “The Wizard of Oz” and “The Poseidon Adventure”: Toto would be blowing through the air, and scuba equipment would be required to get from our house to the pizza place.

Of course, we wouldn’t have wanted to witness another tree falling on our blissfully happy home, or watch helplessly as one of our beloved cats was launched into the stratosphere, but I must say, after all of the hype, I, too, longed for a tad more excitement.

Even the television weather personalities seem disappointed when the predictions don’t go quite as planned. They began waxing nostalgic about what could have been: “Well, Tiffany, things are looking much better than anticipated, but had this been a storm of the magnitude originally predicted, the tidal surges we’re seeing right now could have really done some damage.”

You almost pity them. This is the high point of their weather year, or, perhaps, career. And the wind has literally been knocked from their sails. You can almost see a tear in the corner of their collective eye when their originally dramatic predictions fall a bit short.

Although I now take storm preparation more seriously, I still have a slightly relaxed take on the whole thing. For instance, while some people in southern Maine were in a state of near panic on Saturday afternoon, I was off picking flowers at the local farm, imagining how pretty they would look as my children and I ate our granola bar dinner by candlelight, as the wind and rain howled outside our windows.

As with the rest of life, it’s all about your perspective.

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No Sugar Added is Cape Elizabeth resident Sandi Amorello’s biweekly take on life, love, death, dating and single parenting. Get more of Sandi at irreverentwidow.com or contact her at sandi@irreverentwidow.com.

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