June 28th, 2009
Friday night there was a storm that had everybody talking the next day on Shelter Island. Shelter Island isn’t in the thunderstorm alley like New York City, where it seems every thunderstorm has to rage on their way up the Hudson. We don’t get as many thunderstorms out east, but the ones that do make it tend to be memorable. We had one of those on Friday night: a massive storm system that just pushed east over all of Long Island. The aftermath had some folks speculating there had to be some pop-up tornados by the way the tops of trees had been just sheared off and tossed about. No question, the island was a bit of a mess, but thankfully without serious casualties.
At the Pridwin we were having a wedding when the storm hit. We had been counting our blessings with the bride how the sun had come out just at the right time so the ceremony could take place on the lawn as planned. It was beautiful, warm, even tropical, which was a real delight and nice change after a mostly cool and cloudy couple of days. The bride had hoped to do the entire party out doors on the Pridwin deck. We were watching the weather radar and knew that wasn’t going to be possible. We saw the storm coming, but hoped to enjoy the cocktail part of the celebration before moving in doors.
Nice idea. But the weather was not on our schedule. Right at the start of cocktails, the sunlight began to deteriorate rapidly and a mysterious gray light ensued. All the guests were on the deck drinking perfect margaritas and eating hors d’oeuvres, having a great time, when we began to see lightning strikes over on the North Fork. “Ohhhhh” “Ahhhh” People were making sounds like they were watching fireworks. In many ways there are none more exciting than nature’s fireworks…..especially when they are coming your way.
A quick glance in the office at the weather radar showed a storm that had developed into what looked a giant bomb explosion over the entire eastern end of Long Island. Running out to the deck, we could see the rain approaching across the bay in a sheet, the calm water rippling frantically along the squall line. We had enough time to get the less adventurous guests inside when the storm hit. Within minutes, the relaxed cocktail party had turned into a wild storm scene, palm trees in pots falling over, glasses sliding off of tables, tables beginning to crawl across the deck on their own. The Pridwin staff was drenched head to toe, as we secured bottles and glasses and moved the food inside so the party could continue in the lobby.
We then counted three miracles: one, practical, was that we never lost power, which is usually an inevitably on eastern Long Island in a storm of such magnitude. The second was a rainbow that came with the tail end of the storm and seemed to span right over the hotel to the south. The third was the absolutely indescribable calm that set in after the storm had passed, which gave way to one of the most unusual and beautiful sunsets many people had ever seen.
Everyone wondered if the bride had been upset by the storm’s intrusion on her and her new husband’s ‘big day.’ Not at all, she noted later in the evening. She said the storm and aftermath was how she imagined a real marriage would be. Great times would be had, great plans would be made, but difficulties, storms would inevitably pop up and threaten to endanger the marriage. And if the foundation of love was present and strong, these challenges would give way to the most powerful and memorable experiences.