With the recent visit of Igor to our fair province, the word hurricane has been front row center in our daily vocabulary. Thinking back, we’ve met Chantal, Bill, Luis, Andrew, Gert and many, many more. Naming hurricanes actually goes back to the 19th century although it wasn’t done officially by the National Hurricane Center until 1953. All this hurricane talk takes me back to the wicked blustery weather I witnessed while growing up on the Hill in Branch in the 1950s. Only we didn’t call a wild breezy occurrence a hurricane. We called it a good gale of wind and I remember many from my distant childhood.
One very cold day in March, a strong wind was out from the easterly. Of course, an easterly was the one that blew hardest on our little bungalow. Jean, Cathy and I were making our way up the lane, bent in a double with our hoods tied so tightly that we felt like we were choking. With heavy cloth school bags weighing us down, it was all we could do to put one foot ahead of the other. On the other hand, we were young, spirited and well used to walking everywhere. As we neared our house, we could see Daddy watching through the window, ready to open the storm door to let us into the sanctuary of a warm cozy kitchen.
Ah, that dreaded storm door on our porch could be terribly tricky and difficult to manipulate. If one was built slenderly and didn’t have much meat on one’s bones, it could be the death of you. Anyway, on this particular day, Daddy opened the door and quickly we three children scrambled inside. If my father had latched it then, all would have been okay. But no, he saw our big tomcat running toward the house seeking the same snug shelter which we were enjoying. Just as the cat entered, the easterly took the door right out of Daddy’s capable hands and ripped the hinges completely out of the wood. Away went the door, sailing right down our gravel yard and over Ambrose Power’s longer fence. When it hit Dave Power’s cellar, it went in smithereens. Splinters, boards and nails and all flew around every corner of the meadow. As innocent children will do, we ran to watch the action, oohing and aahing, quite excited by the spectacle. Mommy was horrified that we were now minus a door, and Daddy, who hardly ever swore, was heard to spew out a few expletives in the direction of the Easter’ Cove. Luckily, we had a fairly secure, three-paneled door equipped with a strong lock inside the storm door. Although it didn’t keep out all the draft and wind, it sufficed and we made do until another storm door could be erected.
Looking back on it all, I wish that we had the foresight to put a name on that gale of wind. Had it been called Anastasia, Amos, Bernadette, Boyd or some such title, we would all probably remember more about and recall if it had caused any more havoc besides the destruction of our porch door.
Oh yes, there was also that occasion when a brisk westerly blew down over Peter’s Knapp and whipped our clothes right off the line scattering them hither and yon, and all around the Rocky Lane, but I guess that’s a story for another time.