The lines in the supermarkets are long in the glamorous borough of Queens; many of my neighbors in Jackson Heights come from tropical countries where hurricanes are a familiar threat. As the news from Irene changes hour by hour, we now appear to be in for an extremely annoying event rather than a mass disaster. The storm is weakening and trending a bit to our east; Queens looks as if it will be on the weak side of a weakening storm. The subways currently seem unlikely to flood, so the millions of rats down there are likely to stay put. In any case, at least in Queens we are not yet faced with rats the size of woodchucks like the Gambian pouched rats running wild over in Brooklyn.The greatest dangers to Jackson Heights appear to be power outages and damage from falling tree limbs; significant power outages will of course affect blogging at Via Meadia. If our luck is bad, it could take a week or more to get the power running; there is a lot that can go wrong with the electricity grid in a city like New York. I will be heading up to the Mead country home in the Dutchess County hunt country in a few days to start the semester’s classes, so regardless of the electricity system here in Queens any blogging hiatus should be short.Hurricanes are strange events to live through. An aunt of mine lived through Hugo in South Carolina and said that the most shocking thing was the noise; it was like having freight trains running on both sides of the house. And the biggest danger in her part of the state: the large and spiky cones of the tall pine trees turned into deadly missiles as Hugo’s 100 mile an hour winds picked them up and hurled them through the air.That, we will not see. When hurricanes aren’t dangerous and exciting, they are often dull: sitting in the dark without air conditioning or television in endless, drenching rain. We are hoping for dullness tonight and tomorrow, followed by the beautiful cool weather that hurricanes usually bring in their wake.