running on empty and a year later

This time last year we had no power. Hurricane Sandy plunged neighborhoods into darkness. We were living without everything we take for granted.

During the day we added an extra layer of clothing in a house where everything was cold to the touch. When the sun started to go down, we knew we were headed for another night of trying to stay bundled and warm. There is something surreal about the sun setting, the last bit of natural light fading, knowing you’ll be in the dark until morning.

We played countless games of Monopoly and never really wandered too far from the roaring fireplace. We used the grill outside, or matches, to light what is, thankfully, a gas stove to cook.

There was talk of how the New York City Marathon should go on as planned. Reason finally triumphed and it was cancelled for the first time. Many runners took the Staten Island Ferry across the water to help those who lost everything to the surging sea.

There was no school for one week. There was no Halloween. It was a really good life lesson for my children to know what it’s like to have all your creature comforts taken from you in an instant. They also got to see people helping others. People had prepared for a storm. No one expected the results.

A year later, and here we are making cupcakes for our second grade class for their Halloween party. We baked a batch of cupcakes and made sure there were orange and black sprinkles on each one. We saved a few for big brother and little guy licked the spoon when we were done.

We walked around the garden yesterday and found a rose bush that had a single bloom. When you stumble across little surprises like that, it’s a reminder of how the rhythm of nature is on a cycle we are simply here to witness and appreciate.

It was so fragrant on what was an unseasonably warm day. It seemed so out of place and gave off a scent we associate with summer. We know we will experience the scent of that rose again. That’s how the changing seasons mark the passing of time.

Tonight, we make some magic happen with a cheese pumpkin. The inspiration? We have some cheese pumpkins. Also, the sage in the garden is the perfect fall ingredient to use with anything pumpkin.

The woodsy sage leaves mixed with pumpkin and Gruyere cheese make a savory side dish. Take a look at how to make it in my post over in the Food section at Parade. The link is below.

This morning the runners lined up at the starting line on Staten Island for the New York City Marathon. There are businesses and homeowners who are still struggling with issues. Time moves forward. Tonight, we will have dinner by candlelight to remind us that we did just that, for over a week last year, because we had no choice.

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