The weather report says it’s coming. There’s snowfall predicted from anywhere from one inch to 8 inches. The stores are flooded with panicked people grabbing scads of bread, tankers of milk and enough toilet paper to prepare for the apocalypse. Driveway salt and snow shovels disappear as if they were spirited away by the cold winter wind that whips through Harpers Ferry. It is cold…that is true a scarce few degrees above freezing. But there is hardly sign of snowy doom.
There’s no indication, not a hint of the grey clouds that loom on the horizon just out of sight. Yet I, and apparently everyone else, senses that they are coming. And thus the pre-snow panic that seems to infect everyone as the weather reports get more and more ominous, grows to a fever pitch around six in the evening.
There’s always a calm before the storm, or so I have been told.
I don’t know if that always holds true. Sometimes a storm will manifest out of nowhere. Sometimes a storm will strike with no warning and leave chaos in its wake. Turning a crystal clear blue sky to a roiling black cauldron in minutes. The sky outside my window is that same crystal clear blue sky now.
The air around the Hill Top is calm now, but everyday there’s another grey cloud looming. I watch as another chunk of rock hits the already cracked and devastated concrete walkways. Another timber breaks under the strain of years and weather. Another wall falls in. The storm for the old place is coming. One solid winter storm and the frontage of the place will collapse. The floors that are exposed have fallen to such a level that one finds it incredible that they are still up at all. The exposed stone is in such a state of disrepair that a single finger can push into the crumbling rock edifice sending pebbles skittering onto the black top.
I attend meeting after tiresome meeting only to hear the same people rehash the same old tired arguments as to why they don’t want the hotel built. Despite the fact the vast majority of the towns people are heavily in favor of the new hotel complex. How could they not? The tax revenue alone would pay for the heavily outdated infrastructure here in Harpers Ferry.
But the storm coming for the old Hilltop House…who knows when it will hit? It might be the snow storm that is approaching with speed towards us. Maybe it will snow enough that the moldy and ancient timbers finally give way and the broken spine of the old hotel will finally give way. Or maybe the storm that is approaching for the hotel is the construction that will breathe new life into the crumbling edifice. Or maybe there is no storm approaching at all? Maybe the old hotel will sit on that hill and rot until it is nothing but ruins…which it isn’t far from at all.
Only time will tell what the future hold for the Hill Top House. But time grows short. While it is calm now….
There is a storm coming.