Life or death. A hurricane brings both to the forefront. The decision to stay or to go is the storm within a storm. Regardless, there is no escaping the experience of a hurricane. Now or later, you won’t miss it.
Everything and everyone is scrutinized. We find out who we are and who we are not.
As I write this post, Hurricane José looms. Who knows what track he will take. Already, his is a bit of a loop-the-loop, a lot like my own life track on any day.
Hurricane Irma was kind to me, more than generous. I never lost power but even if I had, a light of love surrounded me. I lacked for nothing. No hurricane can withstand that kind of resistance. ❤
All of you know who you are. You’re simply the best. I may live alone but I am never alone.
After a hurricane passes is the time in-between, a silence that comes with curfew, an enforced quiet, a necessary settling of humans.
It takes a disaster to know that kind of quiet–hurricanes always remind me of September 11, 2001–until the curfew lifts, the green light to the noise of human life.
The return of birdsong takes longer, depending upon evacuation routes. Some will return. Some won’t.
But trees simply stay, to live or to die. There’s only so much sway in them and then–snap–or a slow, slow fall to the ground. Sometimes, a split down the middle.
“They are friends.” My neighbor, Grace, gave me that phrase. As you may imagine, she gives me many. She has that kind of wisdom.
Daily, I look into the small woods outside my window. We age together, these woods and I–we’re an aging community. Whether leaning or just sprouting, the trees teem and lean with life. It is a beauty only the poets can describe.
I’m reminded of Mary Oliver’s roses–too busy being roses to bother with the big questions of life or death. Trees are too busy being, too.
In the nights that preceded the arrival of Hurricane Irma–as well as during her stay–I watched with my tree friends, as much as that is humanly possible. After all, I had so many humans “watching” with me.
I am not so self-involved that I believe trees ever think of me–they are too busy being–but I have never doubted their sentience. For all they give to me, day after day, the least I could do was watch with them.
It’s hard for people to understand why anyone would stay in a hurricane. I once wondered myself. I can speak to no one’s decision but my own. It was right for me to stay.
When was there was the possibility of a direct hit of a Cat 2 Hurricane, two thoughtful friends and I talked about going west but we decided to stay. We talked trees, of course.
While waiting for Hurricane Irma I thought about this post and which poem I would use to conclude. Of all the poetry that went through my head, I kept returning to Wendell Berry’s “The Peace of Wild Things.”
Hurricanes forever change life–completely disturb the peace–it is the poets that give us the words to “rest in the grace of the world.”
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
“The Peace of Wild Things,” Wendell Berry