One of the 11 trees that fell on this wooded acre and a half I live on in Hauppauge looks grotesque and Halloween-like, its branches reaching up toward the sky as if they were arms. Quite appropriate, I think, for the time of year.
The oak, perhaps 80 feet tall, lies crooked, propped up against other towering oaks that stayed upright when superstorm Sandy barreled into the East Coast the night of Oct. 29.
The big tree had been rotten inside and broke at its base. Although it never hit the ground, it took two other tall oaks with it, and they landed in the dark that night with successive, chilling thuds that shook our house.
I'm not that young, and I have been through hurricanes, yet there was something ominous about this storm, something that you knew would be destructive.
Long Island didn't get much rain, but as the wind whipped through these old trees, you could hear it almost like a voice. Sometimes yelling and screaming, other times soft, whispery and frightening -- the voice of Sandy. It's a nice name for a person, but as it turns out, a harrowing name for a storm.
As we know now, Sandy tore through communities along the East Coast and showed us malicious strength, the worst side of Mother Nature.
Sandy took not just comforts, but many lives. It took necessities like electricity for hundreds of thousands. Houses and businesses were destroyed. Sandy took all that away from us.
She took our normalcy, the daily routines we all depend on, and replaced them with fear.
As the first day ended with the sound of chain saws and big trucks, there was this feeling that she had changed everything. Another day later, my husband hooked up our generator, which restored power to our home. It was a relief to have heat and light again. Power from the utility was restored about six days later. Cable, phone and TV service were back only this week.
Then, the next day, the radio blared nor'easter. Though the wind was not as strong, it threw branches against the house, the lights blinked and we waited to see if the power would fail again. (It didn't.) And then the snow came and more branches broke.
The heat was on, but through the windows of this old home you could feel the cold wind, and I jumped every time a gust shook the house. Maybe this was left over from Sandy, I thought -- all from a still-angry Mother Nature.
I waited for Bill, my husband, to come home from work as a school bus driver. I heard sirens and was chilled. I waited to hear if my daughter was safely home in Rocky Point from her own job. She told me on my cellphone that she first had to wait on gasoline lines as the snow and ice pelted her car.
Though the house is intact, and the family for the moment is safe, I don't think I will be as comfortable or as complacent in the future when I hear the wind roar, or even just feel chilled by it. I think I will be afraid. I don't think I realized the danger or wrath the storm could produce and how it would affect us. Now, after the superstorm and nor'easter, I wonder if Mother Nature is finished with us.
"Mom," my daughter asks, "are the locusts next?"
Reader Regina Phelps lives in Hauppauge.