Friday, October 12, 2012

Moving Memories

It's Flashback Friday!  These posts are from my book-in-progress about our sabbatical year...

Anyone remember Hurricane Irene?

As we unpacked our last box, the radar on the local weather station showed Hurricane Irene heading directly for the South Carolina coast.  We were not off to an auspicious start.

     Relieved and relaxed during the whole journey southeast, we arrived on Fripp Island to insufferable late August heat.  Built in the Charleston style, Greg’s rental home was three stories tall with the kitchen and living room on the third floor for maximum ocean views overlooking the moss-covered live oaks and palmetto trees- Great for enjoying low country vistas, but hard on the back. After the second load up the two flights of steps, it was obvious that we had brought too much stuff.  Our temporary home was only 1600 square feet and the home we left was over twice as big.  Back in Canton, it didn't look like we had overpacked, but being in the smaller home, we gained perspective fast.
     “This is like trying to fit twenty pounds of potatoes in a ten pound sack.”  Greg had a knack for pulling out old sayings that summed up the situation perfectly.  We decided to unload the U-Haul, return it, and sort when our energy returned.  We told the kids to save themselves and go play instead of standing around in a thousand degree trailer learning new cuss words from their schoolteachers.
An hour later, we were thanking God for his tender mercies. A family from Delaware, and our neighbors on Fripp Island, had been following my blog, saw the U-Haul, and walked over to invite us to dinner.  Greg and I declined, as we were sweating like pigs and unfit for company, but gratefully accepted for the children.  After the past ten days of stress, we hadn’t even thought about supper.  We continued to unload while the kids dined down the street when Delaware Mom (Yes, Jennifer, that's my anonymous name for you.) arrived with two heaping plates for us.  Simple kindness is highly underrated.  It was the best meal I’d had in weeks and sustained us till the last box was carried up.
Looking at the massive, swirling grey clouds covering the coastline from Georgia to Virginia on the television screen, I thought, “Have we really moved in only to be forced to move out?” Listening to the reporter, I tried to comprehend the situation.  What does mandatory evacuation mean, anyway?  
Having no experience in Hurricanes, we watched and planned.  Since buying the Fripp house in 2006, we have never had a hurricane threaten our coastline.  The house came with plywood sheeting for the windows, but we had never checked how they fit.  At Lowe's in Beaufort, we purchased an extra case of water and wood screws just in case.  No one in town was panicking which I found very comforting.  Maybe they knew something I didn't.  
During the following twenty-four hours, Irene's path moved eastward and we were unofficially deemed safe from the storm.  Looking at the Category 3 Hurricane on the satellite, we breathed a sigh of relief for us and said a prayer for those to the north.  Anabel was disappointed.  At twelve, a hurricane sounded exciting.  She has no concept of storm damage. The weatherman said to watch out for rip currents and extremely high tides, but the low country area should miss most of Irene's path.  
I said, "Thank, God!"  
Greg and Wyatt said in unison, "Surf Board!"
This has to be the biggest difference between men and women. 
However, both sexes did a foolish thing on Friday: we drove into Beaufort to pick up Greg's Harley.  The power had gone off briefly in the morning and we had a little rain, but other than that the weather seemed like any other day at the beach.  When the repair shop called to say the bike was ready, it wasn't raining at all.  Greg thought it best to go on in, pick it up and get it over with in case heavier winds and rain began.  The kids stayed at home finishing school work while I dropped Greg and headed to the art supply shop and the grocery store.  By the time I exited Publix, I felt the first drop of rain.  I called the house and Greg wasn't home yet.  Should I worry?  Greg was an excellent driver and a smart guy.  He'll be fine.  Driving home, the closer I got to the outer barrier islands of Harbor and Hunting, the worse it became.  Sheets of rain pelted my windshield.  Wind shook our massive two-ton Ford Excursion.  I suddenly became eerily aware that no other cars were on the road.  I should have headed back inland, but all I could think was, “Where was Greg?  Is he home with the children?  Has the power gone out again? Are the kids safe?  How could we have left them alone?  We know you can’t trust the weatherman!”  If this was what the outer bands of a hurricane were like, I can't imagine how scary being hit head-on would be.  I pulled over to call home.  Greg had stopped three times driving back and was wet to the bone, but had made it home safe and sound.  The kids were fine and loved nature’s drama.
I made it home with groceries and new art supplies for the kids.  Evening arrived just as the bands spiraled further northward.  We used our new paints to capture the edge of a hurricane sunset.  To quote American Blues singer, Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter, “Goodnight, Irene!  I’ll see you in my dreams.” Or nightmares, as the case may be.


  1. I said, "Thank, God!"
    Greg and Wyatt said in unison, "Surf Board!"
    This has to be the biggest difference between men and women.

    <--- Yes, indeed. This made me crack up.

    I grew up in Florida, so I've had my share of hurricanes. It's usually not too bad, but throw that on top of moving and you've got yourself a 'situation'. It's funny how these things are good, and sometimes funny, memories in retrospect.

    1. You're right, Nickie! Great memories now, but not so hot at the time. Thanks for getting my humor!


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