With Hurricane Earl off our shores, I find myself increasingly distracted. In some ways, there's no reason to be so distracted; we don't really expect the storm to affect us. Actually, we've already been affected, but in a good way, with gorgeous weather: a strong breeze, drop in the humidity, achingly blue skies, and heat that isn't unbearable.
Hurricane Charley will always haunt me, with its last minute change in direction. If you lived in the Port Charlotte area, you'd have likely gone to work in the morning, expecting a Category 2 hurricane to hit the Tampa area, some 3 hours north of you. You might not have boarded up the house or laid in supplies. And then, 6 hours later, you'd have a Category 4 hurricane bearing down upon you.
In 2005, my spouse and I briefly thought about not using the hurricane shutters as Hurricane Wilma approached. Wilma was going to approach us from the west, so we thought we might not even have a real hurricane. But I knew that Wilma had already made history as the most intense hurricane on record, with that dropping barometric pressure. I was haunted by Wilma parking herself over the Yucatan peninsula for 2 days. Two days with a hurricane roaring overhead. Good grief! So we closed up the house, and I'm glad we did. I have friends who swear we experienced a strong Category 3 hurricane, but the official record was only a Category 2. It's amazing the damage that was sustained, some damage that still isn't fixed.
And so, I go to the NOAA site periodically. I go to Dr. Jeff Masters' blog at the weatherunderground site. I am fascinated by all the people who comment. I am mesmerized by all the images. All these currents of wind and water that swirl around the planet, and so many of us move through life with no awareness of them.
I've thought of writing about hurricanes and literature. Early in the summer, I picked up two wonderful books. 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?
No, I will return to these poems in the winter, when the Atlantic cools a bit. I will appreciate this time, since I suspect that during my lifetime, we will cease to have a separate hurricane season. I suspect the seas will continue to warm, which will mean that we will always be susceptible.
But let us not think of that. Let us return to our resolutions to live a better life. Today I will pick up a different book of poetry, perhaps the latest by Diane Lockward or Susan Rich. They, too, have been on my to read shelf all summer. I'll plan good meals.
If you, like me, have been feeling some amount of shame about the dinner ritual, you must read this great article at The Washington Post. The article exhorts us to return to dinner the way Mom did it. The article posits that too many of us are striving to be too gourmet or too exotic every night of the week. Time to return to some time honored approaches which are quick and nutritious. Many of the cooks advocate the simple meat, two veggies, and a starch. But I'd also include stews and casseroles. I've been feeling somewhat guilty about our once-a-week pleasure dinner of grilled hamburgers (with meat from a local shop that grinds its own, so the risk of contagion is reduced) and red wine. But lo and behold, those types of meals are advocated by many of the home cooks interviewed in the article.
So, it's been a half hour since I looked at radar images. Time to bring this writing to a halt so that I can stare mesmerized into the whorls of a satellite stream!