Literary interlude: 4 AM and the weather’s knocking


I can’t believe that everyone else is sleeping through this – the kids and husband, that is. Though the dog is at the foot of the bed, exchanging concerned looks with me.

Wind is battering the house and I wonder if this’ll be the time that it’s ripped from its moorings. The gusts sound like waves breaking on the beach and rolling up on the sand, before the ocean sucks the kelp and deadwood back into its grasp. Sometimes I imagine that our house is ship at sea and we’re in our bunks, waiting for a storm to pass.

It’s not hard to picture because the house moves in high winds. Really, it physically moves — it sways with big gusts. I like to think that it was designed that way, like skyscrapers that shift several feet to resist wind force, without damaging structural integrity. Our house was built 100 years ago and it must be the same, right? It’s withstood worse than this. The alternative is too depressing: that the house perches on the foundation like a loose tooth.

For years I was unaware of weather. I lived in a suburban house buffered by a cocoon of homes, planted on 1/4-acre lots, and spared weather extremes. Aside from thunder storms and rare blizzards.

Now, we sit exposed in a flat little valley, with a handful of other properties that, much like “The 3 Little Pigs,” challenge the wolf to huff and puff. Go ahead, we dare you.

The wind sweeps down from the north-west (except the rare tropical storm that rolls up from the south and turns the sky green). Over time the northern wind peels paint and clapboard off the side of the barn. It rattles the doors so hard, the wood weakens against the hinges and runners. We’ve been here 8 years and we’re on our third set of barn doors.

I used to think that we were the only wind-swept ones but last week, I happily noticed an article that mentioned “Frederick County’s notorious winds.”

The house sways again and there’s rushing in my ears. Maisie hears it too, her eyes get big and her ears droop. I’m propped up in bed, on an elbow, and we stare at one another. What is that? It sounds solid and powerful, like a train rushing by. Finally it stops and we both relax. It’s just the wind exhaling in one long, deep breath.

And about the time that Maisie retreated to the downstairs bathroom for shelter (wimp), the weather service issued this: http://www.weather.com/weather/alerts/localalerts/20842?phenomena=HW&significance=W&areaid=MDZ009&office=KLWX&etn=0001