At about 3 a.m., the night before the wedding hike up Mt. Lafayette, the rain stopped. It just shut off like a faucet, so suddenly in fact, that it jarred me awake. I was sleeping lightly anyway, going over the various alternative plans in my head as to how we’d pull this off in the downpour that was the remnants of Earl.
By the time I awoke that morning, I had become an amateur meteorologist. Since my arrival in camp on Tuesday night, I’d set up a mini-weather station in the loft, tracking Earl’s every move. (That is, when I actually was able to get a signal.) Friends and family were sending me constant updates. The local newspapers were terrifying me with headlines like “Earl ready to devastate New England.” It was positively apocalyptic.
The day before, I had drove over to Franconia Notch to test out a possible alternative for holding the ceremony at the Mt. Lafayette summit. I parked in the Lafayette Campground and hiked the two miles along the Pemi Trail to the Basin, a beautiful rocky pool where the Pemi swirls down and around smooth granite. It’s a nice place, and Meenakshi and I had talked about possibly coming here if Earl made the summit impossible.
But now, I sat bolt upright in bed. On the floor below the loft, M’s brother Sandeep and a bunch of friends snored happily away. They had showed up earlier in the day to begin the task of cooking for Sunday’s reception. But first, the ceremony.
I cocked my head to the screen door and listened. Water dripped from the trees and the roof. But otherwise, nothing. No wind. No rain. All quiet on the Earl front.
Maybe we could do this after all. Maybe hauling 19 people up a mountain to watch us get married was not that bad an idea. Maybe it would be beautiful.
In those few moments, I began to feel like we could pull this off.
Then, the heavens opened up once more, and the rain came in waves, hammering against the cabin, wind howling. I nearly cursed out loud.
A hurricane named Earl
Three days earlier, I took a few moments to stand outside the cabin and marvel at the universe. Literally. The night was so clear, lights so far away, that the Milky Way shown like a bright white paint smear in the sky. The day had been broiling hot, but by 10 p.m. it was a pleasant 65 degrees and everything seemed right in the world.
At that point, nobody knew exactly what Earl would do, and anyway, my job for the next couple days was clear. Meenakshi put me in charge of three things 1) getting camp ready for the onslaught of family and friends that would be arriving over the weekend 2) getting people up and down the mountain without any injuries and 3) perimeter control, that meant parking, tent set ups and bug control!
The first one was easy, though it took me all day Wednesday. Cut the grass, trim the grounds, mulch the rock gardens, put up the prayer flags, clean the cabin and make sure the decorations were ready. Decorations were to include citronella torches to line the walk way between the main tent and the cabin. I also set up a row of baby pink flamingos. Why? Cause I’m from Cheektowaga that’s why! If you don’t understand that statement, you never will!
Anyway, on Wednesday it was about 1,000 degrees outside. Then it really got hot on Thursday! Cutting the grass on what I was calling the “Parade Grounds” took forever. I have a tiny, 3hp lawn mower, that I think is designed for far less than the seemingly endless acres I needed cut. But it went ok, if not exhausting. By the time I was done, the lawnmower was wheezing like it had asthma!
It was nice, actually, to spend a couple quiet days just working around camp. It gave me a chance to reflect on the long journey we’d been on to get this far, and how eager I was to turn to the next chapter.
It seems like just yesterday I was learning how to build this silly blog and how nine months seemed so impossibly far away. And at the time, I had no idea if it would even be worth it, and there were some nights the whole thing just felt like a chore.
But considering where we stood now – as a couple – but also in terms of our renewed closeness to our families, our new and old friends who followed and cheered us on, and the drive, determination and dedication we taught ourselves, it seemed worth it.
And so here we were. Meena was already at home leading the cooking and prep-work charge for Sunday’s reception. And by Friday morning, when my sister and her family pulled up to the cabin, beat from an all night drive, the camp was as ready as it was ever going to be to accept the crowds.
As Andrea and John got the kids settled into their hotel in Littleton, my oldest friend Alan, along with his wife, Jennifer, were cutting their Nantucket vacation short to escape Earl and they showed up at about the same time, the tent, chairs and tables did. Now the place was hopping!
By the time Meenakshi, Sandeep and Sam pulled in, along with the Farmer (our clergy!) and his wife, we knew that the only question mark hanging over the entire weekend was currently moving at about 16mph just off of Cape Cod.
So when I awoke early on Saturday morning, just 5 hours before our boots were set to hit the trail and discovered more rain, my heart sank. Nine months of planning out the window?
I didn’t sleep at all for the rest of that night… (to be continued)
The cat wonders what all the fuss is about. Stay tuned for the next episode: The Hike!
Alan Sobkowiak photo