May 20 2005
You have got to be kidding me.
Did the front page of the paper really say it? Hurricane season starts in less than two weeks. Did my eyes deceive me?
We just went through hurricane season, the worst we’ve ever known, and it nearly separated our great state from the mainland. We just barely survived, and now there’s another one coming? Don’t we get a rest? A get out of jail free pass?
We get nothing, accept the chance to buy more bottled water, potted meat and assorted knickknacks we don’t need. You ever stock up on D batteries, only to sit around in the dark with your head in your hands because you don’t have anything to use them in?
A year later, they’re still in the pantry, leaking battery acid all over your wife’s favorite embroidered napkins — the ones passed down from a great aunt in Denmark.
So we’ll do it all over again. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 and put the big bullseye back on your roof that reads, “Hurricane parking, $5.”
While the heart of the season is still months off, the predictions don’t look good. The story I read said 12 to 15 tropical storms with maybe seven to nine becoming hurricanes. At least two are expected to team up and charge through the Atlantic like twin buzzsaws, one will learn how to rain fire and another is expected to be rabid with a case of measles.
My prediction is that seven storms, and a squaw, will hit Florida, and by the time it’s over, the state will be shaped like a squashed toad and we will be demoted from state to landfill.
Not to be a pessimist, but I know it’s going to be a bad season. There’s one simple reason: my yard looks great. I don’t need the National Hurricane Center or computer models to predict storm activity or how many tropical waves will come off Africa. My bougainvillea is blooming, and it never has since I’ve planted it. That can’t be good.
Peruse your own yard if you don’t believe me. Are plants that have never flowered suddenly looking like they’re juiced on steroids? Are neighbors complimenting your yard, and no longer saying things like, “Wow, that’s handsome dirt” or “Have you considered asphalt?”
Is the grass growing? Are the trees nice and trimmed? Is everything as it should be, like a fairy tale, brimming with flowers and butterflies and singing frogs?
Then we’re doomed!
Yards know — they’re vegetative predictors. A good looking yard means either hurricanes, drought or freezes are on the way, and sometimes all three.
It’s a final gasp of glory, an explosion of color and extravagant vegetation in a big raucous party, all before the winds come and scatter it to Alabama. Enjoy it now.
That said, I’m getting ready this year. No goofing off. No partial planning and perennial procrastinating.
In an old house where the roof is attached by tape and the critters who live in the attic have the good sense to get out and flee as a storm approaches, it’s nerve-racking and I want to be prepared.
I learned some valuable lessons last year. Like how handy a gas grill and a freezer full of frozen, catalog-bought steaks can be. My neighbors taught me that, and they’re Yankees.
Hurricane supplies should not be a six-pack of mini-Cokes, a peanut M&M found between the cushions of the sofa and a slightly-dry moist towelette. That’s for a week-long road trip, not a natural disaster.
So I’m preparing — getting ready to gas the car and board up the windows. I suggest you do, too. And if you don’t believe me, come on over and have a talk with my bougainvillea. He’ll set you straight.