Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricanes of my childhood

Accumulations of rain with Hurricane hazel.Image via Wikipedia
I have vivid recollections of the hurricanes of my childhood. Well, not too vivid in one case because I was delirious. I had been out all day on the water and managed to get a bad sunburn which as dusk turned to evening progressed into frank sun poisoning. I think this was Hazel and she left me with these hazy images of our living room lit by (what else?) a hurricane lamp. We were stranded at the farm because the flooding covered a low spot on our dirt lane out to the Macadam road. So, we had to be patient and wait. There is a lot of waiting with hurricanes. The waiting in the eye of the storm is especially weird. I think the barometric pressure gets to you and messes with your mind. I'm sure my parents were very worried about my fever. My mother kept taking my temperature and putting cold compresses on my forehead. Funny, the things you recall. The buckets of water collected for us and our animals looked out of place next to the formal wing chair.

We lost power for a longer time with Connie, long enough to read all of The House of the Seven Gables by hurricane lamp. To this day, the smell of kerosene reminds me of that book.

I can't remember which hurricane took the wharf away while we stood on the shore and watched. Only moments before, my father and uncle had rescued the boat motors of several neighbors. People used to store their motors in little shacks at the end of the dock. Folks probably don't do much of that anymore. Too much theft. Anyway, the shack and the dock started to sway as they brought the last of the motors ashore. The whole thing collapsed into the waves and receded upriver like so much kindling.

People used to hunker down in hurricanes. Now, the government orders us inland like so much kindling on the tide.

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