Tuesday, September 7

Weathering the Storm - by Janie DeVos

                                                


     I must admit, over the last few days, I’ve been running back and forth to my television to catch the latest information on hurricane Ida.  First thing in the morning, I’d click on the TV to get an updated forecast track as this formidable storm churned across the water toward the Gulf Coast states.  I told my husband last night that I think we suffer from PTSD after having gone through hurricane Andrew (a category 5 storm), in 1992, while still living in South Florida.  He couldn’t disagree.  Being native Miamians, we’ve lived through too many to count, and with each blow, we became more and more worn out from the many clean-ups and repairs, power outages and empty grocery store shelves that are just considered a way of life when living in storm country. 

I come from a whole line of hurricane survivors being that my family has lived in Miami since 1916.  They started this long legacy of surviving monster storms by living through the 1926 hurricane.  (To read more about my family’s hellish night of survival when their roof blew off during the hurricane, please see http://janiedevos.com/fish-fruit).  I’ve marveled over the years that they had the fortitude (or stubbornness), to continue to face these storms decade after decade with absolutely no plan or desire to leave the area.  I, on the other hand, had finally had enough when hurricane Wilma’s eye moved right over our neighborhood in Ft. Lauderdale, as she battered our house with the almighty strength of a category three storm throughout the night.  

As we sat there huddled on our bed with our two Basset hounds on our laps, listening to the horrific banging and groaning of our house taking a tremendous beating like an amateur boxer in the ring with Muhammad Ali, I turned to my husband and said, “I’m done.” 

“Huh?” he distractedly asked as he quickly looked over at our shuttered window when another aerial assault by some unknown object slammed against it. 

“I’ve had enough.  I’m done with these storms.  I’m packing up the car and heading to our little place in North Carolina as soon as I can.  I’m done.”   

He thought I was joking, but after clearly seeing (by flashlight) the dead-serious look on my face, he knew I wasn’t. 

“You’re welcome to come with me,” I laughed, trying for a little levity, though he didn’t laugh along as he knew I wasn’t kidding. 

By far, my husband and I aren’t the only ones to move to higher ground to live out the rest of our lives.  There are thousands of Floridians who have chosen to leave hurricane country behind, and now, with the devastating wildfires making some of the west coast nearly uninhabitable, we’re seeing an influx of west coasters moving here, too; not to mention northerners who are snow-storm weary, as well as folks who have had enough of hundred-plus degree summers.  It’s amazing how weather moves us, literally and figuratively speaking, and how extremes of heat, rain, fire and water (or lack thereof), shape our lives and influence us in so many ways.  And artists are certainly no exception to that rule.  

Take for instance that in one of my novels, The Rising of Glory Land, a hurricane wreaks havoc with my characters’ home and hotel, putting them in the unenviable position of trying to figure out how they are going to make a living and where.  And, in Beneath a Thousand Apple Trees, a freeze threatens my characters’ livelihood with their apple orchard.  Now, in my work-in-progress manuscript, Wednesdays at the Wabash Diner, a drought nearly bankrupts a town after devastating its sugarcane industry, quickly turning it into a dry and dusty faded image of what it once had been. 

Musicians are no different when it comes to weather playing an important role in inspiring them.  Think of all of the music that’s been written about weather: “Stormy Weather”; “Fire and Rain”; and “Let it Snow”, to name a very few. 

Then there are the books: The Long Hot Summer; The House of Sand and Fog; and The Snow Child, for example.  And the movies: The Perfect Storm; Singin’ in the Rain; and Twister, again, just to name a very few. 

Yes, there’s no doubt about it; weather moves us, physically, emotionally and creatively.  And though it’s a terrible ordeal when we’re in the midst of it, eventually the sun comes out, the winds calm, the fires are doused, and we breathe a sigh of relief.  Then, through sheer stubbornness, determination, or lack of any other recourse, we get on with life. We’re resilient, funny creatures, we are, who are so often inspired to create beautiful things by those things that challenge us, horrify us, or even take us to the near-breaking point.  We just have to remember to watch for the rainbow after the storm.  Just ask L. Frank Baum, after all, he couldn’t have gotten Dorothy to Oz without the help of that little tornado. 

May God bless all of the tired and weather-weary with gentler days to come, and plenty of loving hands to help them along their way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 comments:

  1. I love this, and I'm so glad you moved up to the mountains!

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  2. What a great post, Janie, and like Liz, I'm so very happy you chose to move to the mountains! Stay safe wherever you are, my dear friend.

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  3. Oh, thanks, Nan! I'm glad I'm here, too, but even here is scary with the continuation of this terrible disease. It is relentless. My sister lost a good friend to it yesterday.

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  4. Some winters, when the thermometer is stuck at -40C, I seriously think about moving. Then spring and summer come, and I forget about it for a few months. I don't blame you for wanting to get out of the path of hurricanes. I'm afraid of thunderstorms!

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    1. You and my Basset, Jana!! I give my dog hemp tablets (yes, they work), when it's starts rocking and rolling out.

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  5. I loved reading this blog. I'm from Miami and lived through Hurricane Andrew, too. You wrote a great piece here on how weather affects individuals and communities and countries. And the picture is awesome!

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  6. Thanks, dear Rebecca! Always appreciate your kind words.

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