CHRISTMAS DOWN SOUTH. It's Chri stmastime in the south. I pulled my Christmas box of decorations out this morning, then sat on the...
Hurricane Gustav's Visit Or King Kong's Temper Tantrum
It was so silent the morning hurricane Gustav hit Louisiana you could hear a pin drop. Although, it’s funny I remember silence, because the howling from entangled treetops when they violently sway from side to side, is anything but silent. It sounds like the howl of an animal in distress or a freight train trying to push a reluctant wind down the track. Terrified, I listened to what could have been an impending doom, a whisper of truth, a blessed warning, but in fact was the march of a determined hurricane moving toward my town.
It could have been the morning darkness, or the onset of acute emotional distress, but I felt drained.
It was nine o’clock in the morning and hurricane Gustav had already hit the coast of Louisiana. Therefore, it would be two to three more hours before it hit the city of Baton Rouge, which is 50 miles north of New Orleans. Moreover, what is bizarre is that most New Orleans residents (including my father) evacuated to Baton Rouge, due to the risk of flooding. New Orleans is below sea level and I’m sure you remember when the levee broke three short years ago from hurricane Katrina. Although, hurricane Katrina was not the first time New Orleans had endured catastrophe damage due to flooding, therefore we live in fear that each storm will be the city's last.
That being the case, we focused on New Orleans, when in fact Gustav decided to repeat the track of hurricane Betsy, another fierce hurricane that hit Baton Rouge in 1965. Betsy sliced through the city of Baton Rouge in 1965, and from the looks of things outside my bedroom window last Monday morning, Gustav was going to do the same thing in 2008.
My son, my friend James, and I sat in our living room, listened to the radio, and stared at each other. We heard popping, cracking, and other eerily distant noises we were not accustomed to hearing, followed by a dead silence that went on for stretches at a time. I felt I was being whisked around in a cake pan; here for a purpose or assigned to carry out a particular task, but beyond that, nothing was within my control or any of my business. The wind was going to howl, and it was going to rain sideways from now on regardless of what I had to say about it... The wind blew the rain sideways forming what appeared to be large sheets flapping in a breeze; they were reminiscent of magical carpets, but instead I imagined they were magical sheets of raindrops floating across the dark morning sky.
Hurricane Gustav was here and so were we…
Monday blended into Tuesday, and when the storm passed we went outside, but it was sad. The big oak and pine trees planted to provide shade during our long southern summers fell over with their roots sticking out of the ground. It looked as if King Kong walked through our town pulling every tree up by the roots during an angry temper tantrum. We have a tree behind our house hanging onto its life with half of its trunk out of the ground. At first all communication was off, no cell phones, laptops, gasoline, stores open, etc...we lived in a ghost town.
The first few nights without power we were lucky enough to spend with friends who own a generator. They invited us to eat and cool off by the fan until it was time to return home due to a curfew. By Wednesday, things began to get a little better with some stores opening and residents getting power, and we began to adjust. But, I suppose adjust is a long way from being all right. However, this experience reminded me of a phrase I wrote in a paper and I have on my blog. The phrase was in a paper about hardship... I wrote,
“Most of the worlds' great things were born of adversity and hardship; because these roadblocks encourage us to dream, imagine, and believe.”
I thought of that phrase because during this recent adversity my family and friends had some happy and fun moments. By Thursday of last week, we were sitting in the dark playing the guitar, singing, talking, laughing and imagining the distant and not so distant future. I was thrilled to have our utilities back, because of the air conditioner, but I loved the moments I spent with the people I love without having to battle todays distractions.
Today is Thursday and we still have a curfew, only a few stores open, and our city is in shambles, but I bet there are families who are closer in spite of it all. Because often what appears to be a roadblock in our lives, may not be a block in the road at all, it may be there to get our attention.
ABOUT THE IMAGE:
That is me in the picture; I'm helping the heroic men and woman called utility linesmen, reconnect the electricity on our street and clean up the debris left by the falling trees. Because of all they do, I felt compelled to utilize my electrical talents to help as well.
Have you ever read about a theory that we fall in love with those who help us when we are vulnerable? Well...when I saw the utility trucks drive down our street, I fell in love with them. I was exhausted, hungry, tired, scared, in love, and drenched in gratitude.
Anyway, I hope that explains why I look like what my grandmother would call “a wash woman.” (Get a load of my hat.) Nevertheless, I have an official Electricity worker hat on and a yellow hard hat for the important stuff. My utility company’s name is Entergy and we have another one called Demco, but Electricians from all over the country are here sprinkling some light in what was an ever-increasing darkness over our land.
The men and woman who take time out of their private lives, (especially people from this area whose homes and families were also touched by this disaster) to share their skills, talents, and hearts in our darkest days are truly my heroes.
Without these brave men and woman we would have surely melted away in our living rooms, due to the Louisiana heat. I haven't the slightest idea how southern woman in the nineteenth century wore those huge dresses in this climate, in addition to a petticoat and girdle. I'm sorry, but those little fans Hollywood provided Scarlet O'Hara (Vivian Leigh) to fan herself with in Gone With The Wind couldn't keep an ant cool, much less a woman with a thousand layers of clothing draped across her body in ninety degree weather.
I mean seriously, there is a piece of the puzzle missing. We were not alive then, so as far as we know, my fellow southern ladies ran around naked until they had a visitor or it was time to take a picture, then they dressed for the occasion. It could have happened; think about it...they probably went about their business in a petticoat most of the time, because it would have been too hot for those dresses.
Anyway, that is my theory, and I realized something else positive I learned from this experience- I could sail through the reality show Survivor-
In fact, I need to find out how to sign up, because I survived a hurricane and a week without utilities in Louisiana. (However, my cat Simon moved to California, so if you see him please tell him we miss him and we’re hoping for his safe return) Also, I have a can of tuna fish.
(Only kidding about Simon, he's fine, and eating tuna as I type)
The Boogeyman Man From Planet-Lackawanna-
Motherhood is an art impossible to explain, one which requires a vast sea of love, devotion, compassion, and understanding, unmatched by any affection we will ever know again.- Ann Clemmons
Words are the core of our souls, without written, vocal or lyrical expression we lose sight of one another or worse, ourselves. Words bring forth the essence of the human spirit; so express yourself without abandon.
Beatrix Potter’s Journal, 17 November 1896, from the National Trust collection.
Alone in her world
of make believe
weaving her stories
of magic and light
She brings joy
to the eyes
of innocent minds
less jaded and free
For only they know
what's in her heart
holding the secrets
she guards so well
Life's hidden mysteries
belong to those
whose wisdom and truth
shine on in imagination
Written for Ann
Of The Horoscope Junkie
Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”'
F. Scott Fitzgerald. (Lines from The Great Gatsby)
"A Southerner Talks Music"
"A book must be the ax for the frozen sea inside us."
An author values a compliment even when it comes from a source of doubtful competency.
- Mark Twain in Eruption
"I like a good story well told. That is the reason I am sometimes forced to tell them myself"