In the wee hours of this morning Ithacans began feeling the effects of Hurricane Irene as the massive storm slowly moved inland to blacken our skies. The strength of the storm has increased markedly as the day has progressed. What felt like a gentle breezy trickle around 10:00 am is now an angry gushing monster with flood warnings in effect, winds at 30-35 mph and gusts up to 50, and a constant driving rain. When I drove into Cornell for my morning practice the clouds were speeding across the sky above Cayuga Lake at a frightening pace.
To be sure, our little corner of Irene is nothing compared to what others along the eastern seaboard have endured.
When I read about the Ghost Town that is Manhattan I was reminded of the Nor'easter Rob and I experienced while on a trip to The City a few years ago. We had tickets to see Shostakovich's opera The Nose and made the mistake of walking to Lincoln Center from our hotel near Times Square during the worst part of the storm. The wind blew like mad and sent torrents of rain battering against our nearly useless umbrella and we arrived at the Met freezing cold and soaked to the bone. Needless to say, we took a cab home.
Later we were both shocked by the carnage left in the storm's wake. I have never seen so many dead umbrellas in my life. Their shredded carcasses were everywhere: sprawled against the sides of buildings...
...and plastered limply to the soaked sidewalks...abandoned by their owners to rot in the gutters like so much trash...
The sight was disturbing and tragic.
Knowing how brutal such winds can be to umbrellas, I opted to leave my trusty little black one at home today and just let the storm bluster away. Yes, I got a little wet during my walk from the parking lot at the Space Sciences building to my practice room at Lincoln Hall, but I was happy to have saved my umbrella for use during future--and more humane--rain storms.