The early morning sun is bright in a brilliant blue sky and the air is clear as crystal and eerily still, except for the occasional fitful stir, making light silken flags and delicate fronds twitch nervously, but leaving all else still. The office buildings stand silent, giants locked in still waiting by some curse. I see more people on my walk, but they are all strangely mute, speaking in hushed voices, except for those rambling with illogic and unreason on the corners. As I reach a stretch of street where the traffic thickens, I realize the stillness that has me on edge has been deepened by the dearth of traffic on more distant streets, Rampart, I-10, thoroughfares normally gently humming on the edge of hearing at this time in this place, but now virtually silent. The city knows what is coming, and even the pigeons are mostly absent. It's such a pretty morning, and so surreal.
The day passes as all days do, with talk up and down the corridors about plans to leave, plans to stay, staying safe either way. On line updates are my brain-breaks, and towards the end I turn my thoughts to what I can take with me. What I can work on without internet when the power goes out, as long as my laptops have some battery left. What I need to get at the store. Checking again to see when and where the storm will hit, how big it might be.
I leave work and the sun is wandering vaguely in a drift of high cloud. The sky is gray, the air hot, and the sporadic breeze of the morning has become more intense, more insistent, more constant. I get home, and for hours I'm closing shutters, stowing potted plants, making lists, taping windows, checking the lists to make sure I'm not forgetting anything, returning calls to my mother and some friends, reiterating my plans, reassuring everyone that I expect to be safe, that I've done what I can, that we've been told to shelter in place, that this is not Katrina, that I'll text everyone on Wednesday when the storm has passed.
Finally night falls, and I've done all I can think to do for today. Tomorrow I will hit the store one more time, since they expect water pallets in the morning. I'm tired, but I can't wind down just yet. I grab my camera, and prowl the streets. After a trip to the river and a glance at Bourbon Street, it's time to go home. There is laundry to finish, lists to check again and update, and a printer to move even farther from the windows.
And then sleep. If I can.