Friday, October 7, 2016

Nasty Weather - Matthew

I have to admit that I don't remember much about weather-watching before the family moved to Florida in 1961.  I do remember snow when we lived in Millington, Tennessee, and I remember feeling hot and sticky when we lived in Kingsville, Texas.  We moved to Gainesville, Florida a few weeks after I turned 5 years old, and Dad retired from 22 years in the US Navy.  Our house in Florida was a little smaller than our house in Kingsville, but we had a great yard with trees and bushes.  The house floor actually sat about two feet above the ground, so it could breathe and stay cool in the summer.  Gainesville, itself, is about in the middle of the northern peninsula of Florida; it took 90 minutes to drive to either the Atlantic Ocean, or to the Gulf of Mexico.  There was a nice fishing lake about a mile from our house, and lots of little creeks and swampy areas nearby.
    And, as I've frequently mentioned, we (or I) spent most summers on the barrier islands of Chincoteague and Assateague, in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Virginia.  My Grandfather purchased a small lot on Peterson Street and built a catalog-ordered Sears & Roebuck house just before he married Grandma, two weeks after her 16th birthday, in 1915.  The "big kitchen" was added onto the house in 1919, and Grandma chose the wall paper to be used.  It was an oyster-white background, with blue-grey trellises and large old-fashioned English pink roses - some in bloom, some still buds.  Besides the corner with the warped floor boards, so that the rocking chair was permanently tilted back, the thing I remember most about the big kitchen was the wavy brown lines at five different heights, that ran all around the room, marring the wall paper.  (There were six, after the Ash Wednesday Storm in 1962.)
   Now, Momma always kept a decent house - she dusted and cleaned and vacuumed, so nothing was dirty, even though we did have piles of books and magazines all around.  One summer night, after wiping the kitchen table clean, I asked Mom if I should try to wipe away the brown marks on the wall paper.  I think I was six or seven years old at the time, and she explained that those brown marks "were history - the history of the house and the island."  They were the high tide marks of hurricanes and nor'easters and big storms - and they couldn't be washed away.  I think I loved that room even more than the rest of the house, once Mom told me that. The latest owners of Grandpa's house knocked off the kitchen and enclosed the front porch, so the history I grew up with is no longer visible.
   While living in Florida, we saw, via television, what happened during hurricanes.  In Gainesville itself, we had lots of rain, some flooding, and high winds - but we were never hit as hard as places along the coast line.  I lived in Florida, pretty much straight through, from July 1961 until the fall of 1995.  These are the Hurricanes that struck Florida, or near by, while I was there:
1964 -  Cleo and Isabell        1965 - Betsy and Dora     1966 - Alma and Inez     1968 - Gladys
1972 - Agnes     1979 - David     1985 - Elena, Juan, and Kate     1987 - Floyd     1992 - Andrew
1994 - Tropical Storms Alberto and Beryl; Gordon     1995 - Allison and Erin
    And, of course we watched the horrific coverage unfold in 1961 with Hurricanes Carla and Hattie; in 1967 with Hurricane Beulah; Camille in 1969 was devastating; then Celia in 1970 - and Alicia in 1983, Gloria in 1985, and Hugo in 1989.

    I feel so much sympathy for those of my friends, family, and colleagues who are being impacted by Hurricane Matthew.  I know that a lot of folks I know are under evacuation orders, and are not at home with some of their most prized possessions.  I wish I possessed magical powers and could wave my hands, or wriggle my nose, and make the seas and winds calm again.  (No, I do not want to be a God, or God-like.)  I just wish that our coastal areas could enjoy calm weather...  Friends, please let me know if there is anything that I can do for you.  Know that you're in my heart and thoughts...

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