Niagara Gazette

January 11, 2014

LETTERS FROM THE ISLAND: Weathering the storm

By Doug and Polly Smith
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Dear Mainland Blizzard Busters — Thanks for all the notes of concern but we’re perfectly dry, even if recent events further weakened our weary jest, “We’re surrounded by water.”

We’re sending this on Wednesday, due to circumstances beyond our control, and so far it’s been a week to remember, or forget.

It called to mind our governmental furor over Islanders who rent out their houses to visitors for extended periods of time. For example, when Larry Parrish managed the minor-league Niagara Rapids in 1992, he leased a place just down our street for the season.

Now, evidently, some citizens are squeaking and council is concocting some legislative grease. We can’t figure out why this a big deal. As long as the renters behave, what difference does it make who lives nearby? Some of the worst neighbors we’ve ever had have been property owners, all present company excepted, of course. We can’t see where it’s the town’s business at all.

Anyway, in a bit of whimsy, one reporter wondered whether the renters, imagine us as tropical island paradise. Much that transpired this week supports that notion.

You see, except for a few hours Tuesday night, it was just another winter week at our outpost. An offspring called to see how the visibility was, and Doug said, “We can see the house across the street (long pause) … Of course, it’s blown off its foundation, but we can see it.” (Not true, for the record.)

We didn’t get mail Tuesday. Didn’t expect it, either, but that was unprecedented. Garbage got picked up on schedule. Most of the time, it seemed we could have gone anywhere we wanted, but what we wanted was the living room fire. And Tops, in a gusher of geriatric generosity, extended Tuesday’s senior discount into Wednesday.

Elsewhere, though, there was the water thing. Again, we got inquiries about its impact, since we tend to tell people “When the guy across the street has both his front and back blinds open, we’ve got a view of the river.”

Where we live, it’s like a 20-foot scramble down an embankment to the river. They’d have to stand Lake Erie on end before it would impact those of us who live near the South Bridge.

But the northern quarter of our pork chop is right at water level. How many times in the last 40 years has Polly said she wished we had that lovely little waterside ranch on East River, landscaped so that even on the driest days, it seemed to be floating in the current?

How many times in the last 40 hours have we been glad we didn’t? We know everyone’s all right, but still ...

So, with that big exception, everybody had it worse than us. That’s life on the Island, not exactly tropical, but close enough. Come visit. Bring a pineapple and some sunscreen.

Polly and Doug E-mail pollyndoug@hotmail.com