Waiting on Irene

The Rain Storm in Black and White in Ulm, Germany, courtesy of sayduce.blogspot.com

It seems as though we’re still waiting.

After midnight, yet we’re still waiting for the full effect of Irene’s fury.

Sure, it’s been raining all day and we’ve hunkered down in our basements during the tornado warnings, as well, but we’re still waiting.

The power’s still on – waiting for it to go out. The trees are still up – wondering if they’ll fall down. The roads may be navigable – anticipating that they’ll flood over.

Schools were canceled, places of business were closed. And so we prepared.


Of course, we do get rain here on the East Coast. In fact, it rained quite a bit last fall and spring. Prior to the weather-related panic that our newscasters continue to relay, I had even already planned to pack two pairs of rain boots with me this semester, to alternate throughout the seasons depending upon my outfits.

Clearly this is trivial, but it is that time of year – or at least it should be. College students should be packing up, leaving their homes, and heading for their schools. Three days ago, I was still planning on moving in today; instead, I’ve prolonged my packing and accepted the Waiting Game.

Granted, I’ve lacked some clarity on how best to use this time, my nervousness pertaining to my final year as an undergrad certainly not abated by the notion that I will commence my senior year late. Obviously not the only one, but somehow a bit unnerving nonetheless.


Unlike some families, in our efforts to prepare for the pending storm, we did some cleaning, too. Vacuuming, dusting, re-arranging; once it began, it was simple enough to continue. And as I organized bookshelves, I recovered items, as well; memories, really.

There was the recording of my grandmother’s memorial service, held in another church, since hers was deemed too small to house the expected crowd. Eppie Zern, the undeniable mother of my own, a master cake baker.

There were the boxes that held Life and Pay Day; the family on the lid of the one looking dated in their sweaters and small silk scarves, the hand-writing left behind in the other identified as pre-adolescent.

There were the DVDs and VHS tapes to recall our performances, both at home and, primarily, on the stage. Penciled in on the label of Bye Bye Birdie, the musical was recorded as my personal favorite.

And there were the books. Oh, there were the books! I know we had more as children, but nestled in the shelves were most of our favorites. Animalia. Mama, Do You Love Me? Little Miss Star. Koala Lou. Paddy’s Pay-Day. Just for You.

Over in the Meadow. How I remember Over in the Meadow!

I can still hear the inflection in my mom’s voice as she read, the mounting excitement that she exacted in each line. The sing-song quality that the rhyme necessitated. So I read it, too. It’s impossible not to love, impossible not to feel pressed by the rhythm the words evoke.

And, on the final pages, it sounds like this –

Over in the meadow, in a soft shady glen,
Lived a mother firefly and her little flies ten.

“Shine!” said the mother.
“We shine,” said the ten.
So they shone like stars,
In the soft, shady glen.

After all these years, I still love this book, and I am certain that this book helped me love all the others. When I heard “shine!,” when I read “shine!,” all I wanted was to do so. Yes, I’ll shine! Of course I’ll shine! To do any less is to fail the mother firefly, to fail myself as part of the ten. While my confidence was lagging, this Appalachian rhyme bolstered my spirits, even with a pending storm looming over the starless sky.


Now, as I begin to ready myself for sleep tonight, through what is predicted to be the worst of the storm, I am reminded of a doctor’s words. Compelled to extract them from the bottom drawer of a Sterilite cart, prepped to move whenever the time comes, they go like this –

You can get so confused
that you’ll start to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go…


So yes, it appears that we are still waiting. Yet not in a bad way – there are books to be read, movies to be watched, conversations to be had, meals to be eaten; we may be confined to our homes, but at least we still have them. Hopefully, in the midst of all this, we are with the ones we love, making new memories.

And after all that, should it even surprise us that we’re waiting? All this hype and still waiting for Irene to show? Now’s the time to face it – the Waiting Game is a woman’s game, and a natural disaster is certainly no different than a natural beauty!

On, we must wait!


2 Responses to “Waiting on Irene”
  1. Pat Petro says:

    I love to read your blogs Janie, you do have a gift!

  2. Beth Slawik says:

    I just so happened to stumble upon your blog…and might I add that this is a perfect way to procrastinate doing my homework. Thanks my dear. O and of course I loved what I read. I am sure you hear that all the time though. Very stoked it is our last year of being undergrads!

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