Stormy Weather: Reflections and Musings on Hurricanes

August 29, 2020

Stormy Weather: Reflections and Musings on Hurricanes

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It’s hurricane seaason.

Every hurricane that threatens us brings memories of other storms. Some storms that thankfully passed us by, and others that hovered and wreaked hurricane havoc, storms whose names have spawned headlines and headaches, headstones and heartache, hardships and heroism. Katrina, Rita, Ike and Harvey, just to name a few from recent memory. Alicia and Allen (just a tropical storm, but a doozy for us), to go back a little further.

So many memories.

Speaking of memories, today is the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, as we hear everywhere on the news. I’m sure people who lived through Katrina’s wrath in Louisiana and Mississippi don’t need an external reminder of the fateful day. The Katrina anniversary and associated retrospectives are taking place while the people of southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas are struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Laura’s unwelcome arrival Thursday morning. In Lake Charles, Louisiana and Orange, Texas, they will never forget Hurricane Laura, and August 27 will be the grim anniversary they celebrate.

I wish hurricanes were given names using nouns that aren’t associated with people. Hurricanes alter a pleasant association with a name, forever. For example, Laura has always been one of my favorite old movies. It’s a terrific, very fast-paced film noir thriller, but what makes it really special is that I watched it with my Dad.

The theme song from Laura is lovely. Johnny Mercer added lyrics to the haunting melody sometime after the film was released, and Frank Sinatra later recorded a beautiful version of it. Dad was a Sinatra fan, so this is another great association I have for the name Laura. Check out Mercer’s lyrics:

Laura

Writer(s): David Raksin - Johnny Mercer

Laura is the face in the misty light
Footsteps that you hear down the hall
The LAUGH that floats on a summer night
That you can never quite recall
And you see Laura on a train that is passing through
Those eyes how familiar they seem
She gave your very first kiss to you
That was Laura but she's only a dream

She gave your very first kiss to you
That was Laura
But she's only a dream

Laura is also the name of my cousin’s wife. She’s wonderful! I should just call her my cousin.

Happy cousins: Laura and me in Colorado, 2014

So now Laura becomes another name associated with a violent storm. I don’t like that. Why can’t we name hurricanes after various types of bacteria instead of using people names? Or colors? We could start with the 64 colors from the Crayon box, and then move into more obscure colors. Check out this list from the Crayola site:

  1. Black
  2. Blue Green (1958-present)
  3. Bluetiful (2017-present)
  4. Blue Violet (1958-present)
  5. Brick
  6. Brown
  7. Burnt Orange (1958-1994, 1996-2008, 2009-present)
  8. Burnt Sienna (1958-present)
  9. Cadet Blue
  10. Cerulean
  11. Chestnut
  12. Cornflower (1958-1994, 1996-2008, 2009-present)
  13. Carnation Pink
  14. Dandelion
  15. Forest Green
  16. Gold
  17. Goldenrod
  18. Grammy Smith Apple
  19. Gray
  20. Green (1958-present)
  21. Green Yellow
  22. Indigo (1999-present)
  23. Lavender (1958-1994, 1996-present)
  24. Macaroni And Cheese
  25. Magenta (1958-present)
  26. Mahogany
  27. Mauvelous
  28. Melon
  29. Orange (1958-present)
  30. Orchid (1958-present)
  31. Olive Green
  32. Pacific Blue
  33. Peach
  34. Periwinkle
  35. Pink
  36. Plum
  37. Potter Orange (2018-present)
  38. Purple Mountain’s Majesty
  39. Raw Sienna
  40. Red (1958-present)
  41. Red Orange
  42. Red Violet
  43. Robin’s Egg Blue
  44. Salmon (1958-present)
  45. Scarlet
  46. Sea Green
  47. Sepia
  48. Silver
  49. Sky Blue
  50. Spring Green
  51. Tan (1958-present)
  52. Tickle Me Pink
  53. Timberwolf (1994-present)
  54. Tumbleweed (1994-present)
  55. Turquoise (1958-present)
  56. Turquoise Blue
  57. Violet
  58. Violet Red
  59. White (1958-present)
  60. Wild Strawberry
  61. Wisteria
  62. Yellow (1958-present)
  63. Yellow Green
  64. Yellow Orange

I mean, the colors Wild Strawberry or Periwinkle might never be the same if it was a bad hurricane, but I’d rather ruin a color than a person’s name, wouldn’t you? Hurricane Burnt Sienna sounds apropos. Or Hurricane Violet Red.

But instead of impugning colors, maybe a better idea would be to use illnesses. Bad illnesses feel catastrophic already.

  • Hurricane Hemophilia
  • Hurricane Colorectal Cancer
  • Hurricane Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma
  • Hurricane COVID-19. Now there’s a storm that violently slammed into our country, claiming nearly 180,000 souls (and counting), and, like a hurricane, spawning headlines and headaches, headstones and heartache, hardships and heroism (to quote myself from the second paragraph). We’re still in the middle of this catastrophic storm.

The Grill-Meister suggests naming storms after the periodic table:

  • Hurricane Xenon
  • Hurricane Carbon
  • Hurricane Lead
  • Hurricane Argon
  • Hurricane Plutonium

I digress, I guess. But that’s really the point of this post; thinking of Katrina and Laura, I’m just musing about how hurricane season feels when you live 70 miles inland from the Gulf Coast in Texas, and also have a little bay camp even closer to the Gulf Coast in Mississippi.

The cover photo for this post was taken “one canal over” from Gumbo Cove in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, just a few hundred yards. There are remnants of the damage Katrina wrought everywhere in BSL and neighboring Waveland – stone steps without houses, chimney that rise as obelisks, rotting docks and boathouses like this one the only relics of what must have been a thriving waterfront home. I transformed another version of the picture to black and white, which I like better, although you can’t really tell what it is… maybe that’s the point of it. Hurricanes obliterate.

Abandoned boathouse and dock; 15 years after Katrina

Even when the storm doesn’t hit you, you’re tensed up for the next one that just might. And feeling survivor’s guilt along with your empathy for the people in the storm’s path.

Growing up on the Gulf Coast, less than 200 yards from the seashore, tropical storms and hurricanes were the constant hum in the background every June through October. My birthday is September 10, and I can’t tell you how many birthday parties were cancelled or rescheduled because of tropical storms or hurricanes. A colleague/friend recently told me that September 10 is the most statistically likely day to have a storm during hurricane season. I laughed out loud when I heard that. I knew it! Not intellectually, but in my gut.

I have so many memories of evacuating from the beach as a child, staying at a motel in Beaumont or some other town that was also potentially in the storm’s path, and waking up to wonder if our house was still there. It always was, in those years, albeit with some damage, but Hurricane Ike finally took it in 2008, along with the rest of Gilchrist, Texas. Ike did a number on us here at Glover Gardens, too, 70 miles inland. That’s a story for another day.

Hurricane Katrina was an indirect prompt for the best thing I’ve ever written, my story of our Hurricane Rita evacuation, whose 15-year anniversary is in a few weeks. I re-read it the other day, and be darned if I didn’t make myself cry. Again. It’s a quiet and heartfelt true story of two friends dealing with a threatening storm – but it is about so much more. I leave you with it.

Wishing peace and healing to those dealing with memories and post-traumatic stress from storms past, and a quick recovery to all who were impacted by Laura, which we think should have been called Hurricane Lithium.

© 2020, Glover Gardens



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