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  • Just shy of a year since the town stopped.

    Irene arrived in waves of bent-back leaves, branches snapping, falling to the ground as trees swayed and creaked. A white spiral appeared over the Eastern seaboard via satellite. A revolving eye. A record playing a scratchy tune made of wind, static and "The Wizard of Oz."

    And then the power went out.

    The day after Hurricane Irene hit landfall, we wandered the streets in search of electricity. Which basement flooded? How many trees down? How many broken windows?

    Riding bicycles in the aftermath, we turned back from Fair Street--live wires twitching and a giant oak gone horizontal, blocking the way to Little Stony Point. Turn back, turn back, the sky said, but we kept pedaling, more curious than afraid, the breeze in the wheels akin to flying.

    On Lower Main, the river drank the street, all municipal markings now yellow absurdities. STOP undulated as waves upped over shore rocks and curbs to the level of benches, covering the street, the sidewalk, the gazebo cobblestones.

    Everyone gathered ankle-deep in the puddles, wearing olive, black and polka dot rain boots. Barefoot children kicked the lawn pond, mirrored in the tremouring surface as driftwood sticks poked in--pointing, flailing ripple effects.

    An artist in wellies photographed the word "PURIFY" floating in the Hudson River excess. He jigsawed the letters himself--a white logo of possibility breathing on the surface above the crab apple roots.

    Back up the driveway, the ice cream melted. Dark Chocolate Chip, Georgia Peach and Classic Vanilla, all milkshakes without a blender. Tomato lentil soup simmered from another century on the wood stove, while water for coffee boiled on the propane grill.

    Reading by candlelight, a calm permeated the rooms as dark became dark without lamplight or electrodes. We remembered outloud the night Finn and I escaped a ball lightning clap on the front porch, then slammed the door, screaming about Storm King.

    Later we heard about the boulder and a last-minute rescue on 301. A wayward piece of mountain roiled loose with Clove Creek's sudden raging, crashing the bluestone patio, cracking Lily and Oliver’s foundation. Muddy water surrounded them, gouged their driveway, leaking through the rugs and couches. The fire department sirened-called the senator from Albany, but still no check arrived from FEMA.

    Irene stopped trains to New York City for a day or two. Friends came for showers, pages turned on novels read until sunset and streetside news wandered in from the neighbors.

    Laura hitched Gravity to the front porch until Lily returned.

    When the machines whirred up again, everything that stopped continued.
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