Hurricane Irma might have devastated Florida and surrounding islands. But, I couldn’t help but find beauty in the midst of the tempest. On Sunday, September 10th, I sat on our front porch and wrote ferociously, this blog post is the result of that writing fury.
I was inspired by a blog post that Nicholas Michael Reeves posted on the 9th: Taste the Salt in the Air. In that post, Cole talks about a conversation he had with a writer. One phrase, in particular, has stuck in my brain ever since I read that post: “Cole, if you are to write about this hurricane, you make your readers smell the ocean and taste the salt in the air. You make their knees shake.” That’s what I tried to do with this post. I don’t live near the ocean, but I tried to describe the hurricane so that you could feel it’s glory. I didn’t sit outside and watch the most intense part of the storm. (Because that happened at 2 in the morning…) This post captures the beginning of it.
But, boy was it awesome.
The sky was white, white as paper before a writer bleeds his thoughts onto it. Wisps of gray clouds rushed across it. It was beautiful, not threatening. The light filtering through the clouds was perfectly white.
Suddenly, with a rush, a blast of wind blew through the treetops making the branches dance up and down as if two partners were doing a tango in the air. The raindrops drip-dripped onto the rocks in the garden beds and kept a steady tempo for the dancing trees.
The wind blew harder. The rain flew off the roof in small puffs that looked like steam. The dancing tree branches jumped higher and swirled around each other.
The drip-drip of the raindrops grew faster and faster. The theme was intensifying. The different notes that the rain played as it struck the rocks, leaves, pathway, and grass grew into a harmonious song that continued to grow and fill the air.
The Spanish moss hanging from the aged oak tree was green with rain. It looked like the hair of a tree nymph was waving behind her as she danced around the rain-soaked grass.
The light grew darker, the storm was escalating. But, the colors grew only brighter.
The wind calmed, but the rain increased. There was a now a small pond surrounding the rock that it had beaten. The sky grows even darker and the light turns from white to gray.
The wind returns. It blows slowly – the branches are waltzing now. But, in a flash, it magnifies. The branches are whipping up and down in a ferocious polka. The rain is blowing off the roof in a thick mist. The water is pouring into deep puddles, it gurgles and splashes – proclaiming to the world that it is here.
I sit here, cloaked in a gray hoodie to ward off the cool breeze, pondering. My thoughts are not flying in panic, as usual, instead, they are calm and collected – finding beauty in the midst of a tumultuous hurricane.
My small hand grasps a purple pen and pulls it across the page, sometimes fast, sometimes slow. Most of the time it can barely keep up with the descriptive monologue running through my head that I am capturing on this white page.
I feel a cool breeze kiss my cheek as the wind swirls about me. I feel goose bumps run up and down my arms and legs as I do what I was created to do – write. The words just flow out of me. Somehow, my brain has connected to my hand and I can describe the terrific glory of a hurricane with just words.
I’m so enraptured by the symphony induced dance of the trees and plants. It begs the attention of every one of my senses. My brain is so preoccupied that I can barely feel the drops of rain that splash periodically onto my legs, face, and hand.
I hear a lone crow crying desperately as if searching for a friend to comfort and offer companionship during this awesome event.
The smell of rain wafts through my nostrils. That sweet, clean scent that calls me to dance in the rain and feel its majesty splash on my face and soak into my hair. I ignore the call out of prudence, but my heart longs for that sweet wet embrace that comforts and calms. I breathe in the crisp, damp air and my mind is transported to the mountains. The piquancy of the air on my tongue beckons me to taste the rain, but I refuse.
The storm has calmed and the dancing trees are almost still. The Spanish moss, cloaked in water sways softly. It’s as if a maiden is standing on a hill, listening to her suitor proclaim his love to her. The soft breeze gently moves her long, soft hair from side to side.
I spent most of Sunday night cowering in our hallway from possible tornadoes. (Yes, I took this picture while I was in the hallway.) As terrified as I was of the wind and rain, I couldn’t help but be in awe of the creative ability of God. I know He was holding my life in his hands. He held my house together. He held my mind in His hands, He kept my thoughts calm. He kept my head cool and collected. I was scared Sunday night. But, thanks be to God, Monday dawned.
The beauty of a day is that it only lasts for 24 hours. The torture of a day is that it only lasts for 24 hours. Irma raged for days. She ravaged entire islands. I’m so grateful that God was watching out for me and my family and our home. I look at the News reports and see the annihilation that Irma caused. Just looking at satellite images is devastating. I looked at those pictures and I’m moved to tears. I am so blessed. These people lost everything. I can’t imagine the absolute terror that runs through your brain when you’re told that you have to evacuate and it’s possible you won’t have a home to return to.
Irma was not my first hurricane. I’ve lived in the same house my entire life. 18 years. I’ve lived through so many hurricanes. Thankfully, not a single one from the past has left a significant mark on my home or life. Irma might not have left a mark on my home but it has left its mark on my life. Irma was the first hurricane that I really remember actually living through. I remember part of Frances or Jean that went through in 2004, but not much and it’s just sporadic memories. (I was only 5)
I will never forget the wind from Irma. It was terrifying. For hours upon hours, it howled and shrieked and screamed. The trees whipped around and I was scared they would fall and crush my house. I was even more terrified that a tornado would form and rip the roof off my house and pull the walls out.
When we weren’t in the hallway, we were sitting in our living room playing board games by flashlight because the power went out at about 6:30 P.M.
But, God was there. Even in the midst of the storm, He gave me peace in sleep. I actually slept Sunday night. Granted, it was only a few hours and I woke up in the middle of the night. But, I SLEPT!
It was a beautiful day. The rain had stopped, the wind was still around, but it wasn’t terrifying. Now, it was welcomed. Irma brought cooler weather to Florida and we welcomed it with open arms. The soft, cool breezes it left felt amazing after months of 80-90 degree heat. Who knew it takes a hurricane to bring fall to Florida?
We emerged from our homes and began to investigate the damage. Not a single tree fell at my house. We have 4 large oak trees in my backyard, all of them are pretty close to the house. And, another one in our front yard. All of them were still standing securely. We have another tree that was leaning more than before in my backyard but it didn’t fall. Charlie did a number on that tree back in 2004 but it’s still standing. God is truly awesome.
A Photo Diary of Irma
To prep for Hurricane Irma, I cooked 10 meals. From previous hurricanes, we knew our power would go out. It was a question of when the power would go out, not an if.
This tree is the reason our power was out for 88 hours. It fell during the storm and took an entire electric pole with it.
Tuesday, dawned with a beautiful sunrise that I praise God I was able to capture. God’s mercies truly are new every morning.
Nothing like an artsy picture of reading by candlelight.
My little sister and I walk dogs for a neighbor. These are a few pictures of the 13 fallen trees that we saw on Wednesday after the storm.
There is normally a small creek that runs beside the trail on the left side. Well, it overflowed its banks and poured into the other side. Covering the pathway with its wake. Also, multiple trees were down around here and we couldn’t even count all of them.
It was eerily still because there were so many trees down. Usually, this trail has dozens of walkers, runners, and riders on it. On Wednesday, we passed maybe 10 people on our hour-long walk.
Yet another tree that was down on the tail. We had fun climbing around some of them.
This is a picture of grass fields in my hometown. They turned into a lake! That was weird to drive by.
My dad set me up a ‘kitchen’ on our porch for while the power was out. I will say, it was a lot of fun to cook out here. It would have been more fun if it wasn’t quite so hot…
I hope you enjoyed this first-hand look at Irma! It was a scary storm and I’m glad it’s over but, I’m also glad I went through it.
I learned a lot of lessons from Irma.
I learned I can prep 10 meals in 1 day.
I learned that baking and cleaning are my defaults when I’m stressed. I baked 3 kinds of waffles in 2 days. Along with muffins and mini German Pancakes. I’ll have to do recipes for all of these someday. The excess of breakfast food was wonderful while the power was out.
I learned that you can make French toast on a grill if you have a cast iron griddle.
I learned that if you try to have 6 kids sleep in a hallway because you’re scared of tornadoes, no one really sleeps.
I learned that 60-80 mile an hour winds are terrifying to listen to in the middle of the night.
I learned that washing your hair in cold water is not fun.
The power going out for 88 hours is only fun for about the first day or so.
Putting 2 twin mattresses together in the middle of your living room to make a giant bed is a great place to hang out while waiting for a hurricane.
Store extra-large throwaway cups from restaurants to fill with water and freeze to use as giant ice cubes.
If you cook for 3 days straight, you will get ‘grounded’ from cooking until you do the dishes.
12 days without exercise + prepping for a hurricane + Hurricane changing course every hour = I had anxiety relapses multiple times a day.
Watching the wind blow the trees around is really fun.
My family has enough containers to equal 18 gallons of water.
36 gallons of water is enough water for 6 people for 6 days.
It’s highly unlikely that water would get cut off to my house. And, it didn’t.
36 gallons of water takes up an entire counter.
When the power comes on 3 hours after taking a cold shower and washing your hair, you get kind of sad when you realize you could have taken a hot one.
You get really jealous when all of your friends post on Facebook that they got power before you.
You feel bad for the people who had to wait way longer than you did to get power back.
You start to regret never signing up for Spotify premium after the 2nd day without power. (Music lover problems)
You really regret losing your mP3 player before the storm.
Missing smoothies were one of the oddest things I missed when the power was out.
When the power comes back, you spend 2 hours just catching up on YouTube videos instead of working.
When the Wi-Fi stops working 4 hours after the power came back you get really sad about not being able to work.
I love working on my blog at Starbucks.
Green tea is amazing and given the option, I will drink 52 ounces of it in one sitting.
Cold brew coffee is one of the greatest inventions of all time when the power is out.
Generators are miracle workers.
I hate sleeping without AC in Florida in September.
Phone battery life is a prized commodity.
7 people can clean up fallen branches and moss really fast.
No power means everyone hangs out together more.
Ice becomes a hoarded specialty.
You become very grateful that you don’t mind warmer water.
This post was all over the place and kind of ended up being 3 posts in one… Oops, well, I like to write and don’t like to break it off into multiple posts. I hope you enjoyed this post. What was your favorite section?
Soli Deo Gloria