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Goodnight, Irene


Yesterday afternoon, apparently in preparation for the hurricane, a sailboat laid anchor just below us in a cove near Roger Island. All morning a parade of boats — small and medium-sized yachts — motored up the Hudson River, probably on their way to the St. Lawrence Seaway. They were getting out of New York Harbor before the storm arrived.

But not this boat. At dusk we we went out to the porch to grill fish, and stood there for a while with our glasses of wine and stared down at the river, speculating . Why here? we wondered. Why this particular spot? As lights winked on across the river the sailboat remained completely dark; even the running lights were off. We figured maybe they were sleeping while they could, before the storm hit. They had pulled in the dinghy, battened down the hatches, and apparently were tucked away, waiting for the worst of it.

Early this morning I went out into the teeth of the storm to take a photo through the pounding rain. Incredibly, the sailboat was in the exact same position, still facing north, buffeted by small whitecaps but otherwise rather peaceful.  A few hours later it shifted 90 degrees and now faces west, towards the Catskills. The storm rages on, the Internet has come and gone and come again, and the sailboat rocks in the waves, anchored three times in the silt. The bow again faces north.Those people will have a story to tell about this night in the land of Rip Van Winkle.

And when they finally emerge from below deck and look around them, the sailors will be forgiven if they come to believe that Hurricane Irene magically transported their sailboat to the muddy Mississippi River.

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