Vineyard Haven, where I live, isn’t exactly one of those places that looks extremely vulnerable to the wrath of a giant storm or the open sea. I live in town, near the harbor, but most of the really old trees in my neighborhood show no evidence of being pushed or shoved or broken.

Nevertheless, I am one of 1.2 million coastal residents, according to the New York Times, who live in the United States and have been identified as being in harm’s way for some future hurricane. If a monster storm approached, I’d say goodbye to my normal way of living, just as so many have had to do, both recently and through the ages.

From my front door I can smell the ocean when the breeze is right. Looking out a window on the second floor of my house I can see the masts of the topsail schooner Shenandoah, the schooner Alabama and the ferries that come and go. And if I close my eyes, I can see Texas and Florida and the Caribbean islands — strangers to me but neighbors also living near the water.

I was never naïve about the dangers of choosing to live where I do. On the days following my house closing, a friend told me to paint the interior walls of my basement with bottom paint to keep the barnacles off. In response to some of the humorous commentary from friends and relatives about being really close to the tide, I joked that I was toying with the idea of hanging a lifeboat from davits on the south side of my house.

The late Craig Kingsbury told me he remembered one hurricane, I think in 1938, when the water depth on my street, Lagoon Pond Road, reached eight feet. Craig was a local oracle who walked the streets of town barefoot and served as selectman for many years. He possessed more memories of this little town than all the rest of us newbies put together.

Others told me my backyard used to face a swamp, or rather a tidal marsh. To create recreational space, the town brought in fill from the harbor and created Veterans Memorial Park. Instead of attracting mosquitoes, the park now attracts soccer and softball players from around the Island. The park gets flooded, but only after a torrential rainstorm.

I bought a house in this neighborhood because I was looking for a real estate bargain at a time when there were few. As long as I knew all the dark sides to this house, I could argue that I signed the documents knowingly and got it at a great price. When you buy an old house, you inherit all its stories and, in my case, generations of worries about big ocean storms. For me, I treasure the good stories like anyone would cherish a pear tree growing next door to my backyard. I have that too.

I know that the previous owners were among the Vineyard’s finest, the hard-working Pereira family. My house resonates with their pride all the way down to its oldest timbers dating back to 1902 when it was built.

We love our neighborhoods for the predominant feeling of place, of connection to the beautiful sunrises and sunsets that occur almost daily, and the warmth of neighbors saying hello most of the time. But hurricanes are reckless. The powers that drive our oceans and weather will always be bigger than us.

So when a big ocean storm rages south of the Vineyard, my worries and troubles aren’t my own. My thoughts and prayers go out to the generations of folks who live and have lived in these near and far communities.