Saturday, August 27, 2011

Calm

It's a quiet day on the coast, foggy to start, a bit of sun at noon, fog again at 3:00, no winds, no surf, generally very calm (of course it's calm, it's the day before a hurricane).

"Calm" does not describe the media/government/grocery store frenzy, however, as Irene approaches. I succumbed a bit, having planned to stay in Massachusetts for the weekend but then imagining, just as all the media hoped I would, downed trees and power outages and storm surges and chaos and destruction. I scuttled north early this morning to protect the house as best I could (wandering around outside like Lear, cursing?). A number of signs along the highway helpfully advised me to "Make plans. Severe weather expected."
The media have us so well trained, don't they? Endless shots of boarding up windows, pulling in boats, emptying store shelves, people earnestly describing their preparations, or lack of them, and then saying, "But what can you do." When the disaster turns away, there is never any apology given, no shots of windows being unboarded up. When the disaster hits full force, the media also disappear (except for that one intrepid reporter being blown about near a sea wall or under a palm tree, possibly the same shots that were used during Bob, or Katrina), until it's safe, of course, and then the real frenzy begins, the long tracking shots of broken stuff, the awed but strangely self-congratulatory voice-overs, and the patently false sympathy.

I have somewhat more sympathy for government officials, who are just trying to do their jobs instilling panic. If they didn't over-react, over-plan, (evacuate, shut the subway, call in the Guard, invoke FEMA) they would be roundly roasted by, guess who, the media. Also, by Republicans who only like government when they need it.

We have no idea what to do with nature anymore. We ignore it, or try to control it, and when we can't, when nature proves to be too powerful, we panic. No one "rides out a storm" any more. I can't imagine old-time Mainers rushing to the general store to buy gallons of milk. They already would have had what they needed. They were prepared all the time for the whimsy and beauty and cruelty of nature, not just when the radio told them to be.

The surf should be terrific tomorrow, after a very calm and placid summer.

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