As I write, it is last week, and we’re in the lull, the eye, the little break in the middle of the storm, that time when you go outdoors and size things up. The sun is breaking through, and although the radar looks like there will be more before it’s over, now is the time for bucket trucks and chainsaws and checking on things. As you read this, recall last Thursday morning’s storm. You may be surprised to learn that said nor’easter did not cause us much trouble here on Matinicus Island, even though anybody might assume we sit dangerously exposed. According to the social-media chatter, NOAA, the ham radio club, and Edna St. Vincent Millay, we stand most stoically in the teeth of gales and take it.

My lights never blinked. Gary had to go up in the bucket truck and work on the power lines for all of three customers that morning, and Paul had one “I’ve got no phone” report which turned out to be electricity-related and resolved itself. A couple of places, probably empty now until spring, will want the utility guys’ attention sometime. Somebody put in a trouble ticket for no internet but reported that it could wait until the next day. Meanwhile, across the water in America, as they say, folks faced real trouble. Photos from Portland and Thomaston and other towns depicted serious damage: utility poles smashed across parked cars, great ancestral trees splintered, well over 200,000 customers without power. There are certainly busted trees out here to clean up, but we have chainsaws, and there is no evidence of mayhem. The phone man’s boss called to check on us, but there was nothing of significance to report.

From time to time I like to remind the rest of the world that despite the always-charming folklore of uncivilization, and our own temptation to nod somberly when some poor sap calls us “hearty folk” (oy, spare me), we are not so battered and without succor here. Usually, if one hasn’t burnt all his bridges, one can even count on the help of the neighbors for little things. Even a real jerk can get help for the big stuff.

It is satisfying, when met with the usual hand-wringing of folks who have never been here, to explain that as a rule our power outages are shorter than theirs. The power company trouble department is not hard to reach, and unless the phone man is in Labrador or some such place he’ll also come by sooner than the nice customer service folks realize he can. We have our own version of “Meals on Wheels.” It is gratifying to sit in the meetings of the emergency planners and know that we fear no zombie.

We have nobody without shelter and few without tools. We have, as a community, a surplus of food and the skills to be comfortable. When the wind howls, and the lights go out (which didn’t even happen last week), and the trees come down in the road, we deal. Nobody here will go hungry because the supermarket is out of bread. Nobody is left alone to suffer, and even if we are tempted to ignore those who have insulted us in the past, no islander would ever really turn their back on an emergency.

This is still no place to be with a bad appendix, because transport to definitive care is (as I have pointed out again and again and again) entirely weather permitting. You could be stuck here in a world of hurt, but I haven’t seen too much of that in 30-plus years. An offshore island might be a bad idea if you cannot manage safely without specialists, or technology, or pavement.

This is not an easy place for the terribly seasick, the afraid-to-fly, or the constitutionally anxious. This is a challenging place for those who cannot eat many things, as there is little if any social life without it be around somebody’s table. This can be a boring place for a 13-year-old. This can be an expensive place as travel is costly, electricity is very costly, and heating fuel is a complicated dance with many steps to learn. This can be a lonely place if you have neither friend nor lover. It can make for a very long winter if you don’t like winter. It can be a depressing place if you are predisposed to that illness and the days are incessantly gray. This can be a rough part of town, depending upon your choice of friends and enemies. This can be a fishbowl and a snow-globe, we’re-all-in-this-together and every-man-for-himself, a place for anarchy, solitude, and one hell of a good dinner. It is not, however, a particularly dangerous place to be in a storm.