The first day of June, the start of hurricane season--it's a hurricane season which is already strange, since we had our first named storm in January! Several days ago, tropical storm Bonnie brought so much rain that the southbound lanes of Interstate 95 were shut down on a holiday week-end.
I have gotten a bit lazy, I confess. I should test our hurricane shutters--I've never tried them all to be sure that they actually shut. It would be better to find this out now than when a storm is a day away.
We almost always have enough food for a week or two, although the meals at the end of the second week would be very strange. We don't have as much storage space in this house as we had in our old house, so I don't have the stockpiles I once did.
I have not backed up as much of our paperwork as I always mean to have stored electronically. I suspect this will be my ongoing goal as I age.
Do we have fresh batteries? What devices need batteries?
Yes, clearly I am not ready for a storm--or any catastrophe. The past few years have showed us that even people who live away from coastlines can be affected by catastrophe.
Until recently, most of us assumed that we lived in a world with stable, predictable weather patterns. Surely no one believes that anymore. Until recently, we assumed that our government could save us from anything that might go wrong. Believe that at your peril. At least realize that it might take awhile for your government to ride in to the rescue. Could you eat in the meantime?
It's time to return to the idea of self-reliance. Maybe you don't want to go as far as buying a generator or canning your own food. Maybe you don't want a weapon to call your own. But now is a good time to take stock: count your supplies, take some pictures of your valuables, put those pictures with your insurance and other important paperwork. You do know where those important papers are, don't you? You could grab them at a minute's notice, if you had to evacuate?
And while we're at it, we should back up important papers and important pictures. If you can't afford cloud computing, you can e-mail files to yourself. Or put it all on a data stick and ask an out of town person you trust to hang on to it. That way, even if you don't have access to your hard drive for whatever reason, you've got your important stuff.
Maybe I'll read Thoreau today. Maybe I'll read Laura Ingalls Wilder and think about Pa, who could seemingly build a cabin in a week-end. Self-reliance was once a proud tradition in the U.S. It's time to return to it.
Or maybe I'll read some poems inspired by recent hurricanes. Patricia Smith's Blood Dazzler does amazing things, an astonishing collection of poems that deal with Hurricane Katrina. I love the way that Katrina comes to life. I love that a dog makes its way through these poems. I love the multitude of voices, so many inanimate things brought to life (a poem in the voice of the Superdome--what a cool idea!). I love the mix of formalist poetry with more free form verse and the influence of jazz and blues music. An amazing book.
In Colosseum, Katie Ford also does amazing things. She, too, writes poems of Hurricane Katrina. But she also looks back to the ancient world, with poems that ponder great civilizations buried under the sands of time. What is the nature of catastrophe? What can be saved? What will be lost?
My own poetry writing has not been coming naturally--I need to read more poetry to be reminded of what can be done. Let me do some of that today, so that I'm ready to write tomorrow. I'm trying to get back to my habit of writing a poem on both Tuesday and Thursday.
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