I have been thinking about some lines from T. S. Eliot’s “The Dry Salvages,” the third of his Four Quartets, lately:
I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river
Is a strong brown god - sullen, untamed and intractable,
Patient to some degree, at first recognised as a frontier;
Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyer of commerce;
Then only a problem confronting the builder of bridges.
The problem once solved, the brown god is almost forgotten
By the dwellers in cities - ever, however, implacable,
Keeping his seasons and rages, destroyer, reminder
Of what men choose to forget. . . .
The river is within us, the sea is all about us; . . .
And how. We live about 150 feet from Long Island Sound. My worry is that, over the next couple of days, that distance is going to shrink to zero as Hurricane Sandy delivers great quantities of the Sound over the paltry sea wall that separates the dwellings of our neighborhood from the “untamed and intractable” currents that surround us.
We’ve lived here for about 15 years and have had several bad floods. A few times our basement filled up to the brim with water. But I have never seen anything like the warnings that are preceding the arrival of Hurricane Sandy. The storm is still a day or more away from us but already extra water is piling up in the Sound. The wind has ticked up to about 8 knots (oops, it’s now up to 11 knots), blowing east-northeast, which means that it is pushing even more water our way. As I write there are about 2 feet more water in the Sound than predicted, and we are at a point in the tide cycle where high tides are especially high. And take a look at the air pressure:
Yikes. The meteorological news, as per usual, been a near hysterical rant, but this time the hysteria seems justified. We’ve had at least three automated calls from town officials warning us about the storm. The last was from the fire chief, who said that we could expect increasingly bad storm surges for 4 tide cycles, beginning with tonight’s high tide around midnight.
All around us, people are boarding up water-facing windows and moving their belongings around. In the end, alas, there is not all that much you can do. The best advice is probably that offered by my PJM colleague Brendan Loy: “Get the Hell Out.” Our whole neighborhood will likely be evacuated by early tomorrow. The children think it is exciting, which I suppose it is, but I confess this is a species of excitement I could do without.