Stormy memories

I moved to New Orleans in the summer of 1965. I was 20 years old. A couple of months later, in September, I had an experience of a lifetime when Hurricane Betsy hit us head-on. Betsy was a Category 4 when it reached Louisiana, and it was a religious experience of a sort.

I was living with my parents on the top floor of a duplex in Uptown New Orleans. None of us had experienced a full-blown hurricane before. My father left his Nash Rambler parked in the driveway. Later, we found what looked like bullet holes in the car body.

Stones had blown through.

Betsy passed overhead in the dead of night. She did sound like a freight train. Trees were bent over. Electricity danced up and down along power lines. At times I crawled to a window to look outside. I could hardly believe what I saw.

In the years that have since passed, I’ve seen videos of hurricanes, but none ever came close to what blew over our house that night. They would show some flapping street signs, etc., at most.

I always supposed that the lack of accurate videos of hurricanes at their worst was due to the fact that only a lunatic would go out to film it, or even approach a window during the height of it. Well, that has changed. There are cell phones, and there are lunatics.

When a hurricane approaches, there are always people you see on the news who say, “Oh, we’ve been through hurricanes before. We’ll be staying at home, like always.” These people have experienced glancing hurricanes at best.

Just four years after Betsy, Hurricane Camille arrived a bit farther to the east, which was good for New Orleans. The west side of a hurricane is the safer side. Camille was worse than Betsy. Yet again, there were people on the news declaring their intentions to ride it out.

Camille wiped entire homes off their foundations on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. People simply vanished forever. Plenty of them. The video below provides a good idea of what these things can do, especially at the 0:08 point.

You do not want to stay home.

Speaking of lunatics, here’s another video of what appears to be one of those wacky groups who drive toward tornados. Looks like they also drive into hurricanes. I hope they have life insurance.

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(Aftermath: The day after Betsy landed, I was able to drive north to Baton Rouge where I moved into a LSU dorm room. Damage in Baton Rouge was far less. Like right now, power was mostly off in New Orleans, and my parents lived with that, in the dark, for more than a week.)

The snow comes out

Well, not snow, obviously, but it is a pretty white, and it appears every year about now after the start of the summer monsoon, and that has happened. This is the very same bush where mistletoe appeared last April, and you can still see it there at the top middle.

As I write this, Sunday morning, I’m waiting for Abel the Deadpan Yardman to ring the gate bell and mow the shaggy lawn. Normally, he cuts on Saturday morning, but it was raining all day yesterday due to a tropical storm in the nearby Pacific. It’s still overcast this morning, but the rain stopped last night.

Tropical storms and their ugly Big Brothers, hurricanes, are some of the many things I do not miss about my former life above the Rio Bravo, most of which was spent in hurricane zones. In spite of a number of sideswipes — the most memorable being the devastating Camille in 1969 that obliterated the Mississippi Gulf Coast — I only got hammered head-on just once, Betsy in New Orleans in 1965. It was a memorable and scary night.

The arrival of the annual rains has transformed our world from dry and hot-ish to damp and cool, a transformation I embrace, but by September I’ll be sick of it.

While writing the above, the gate bell sounded, and now I’m enjoying the whirr of the Weedeater, which will be followed by the roar of the Frankenstein mower.

All music to my ears.

Dry times ahead?

veranda
Just this very morning.

HERE I SIT on the veranda having just returned from six laps around the neighborhood plaza where, on Thursdays, we always traipse around and through the temporary market that’s erected this day every week.

There are two large fruit-and-veggie stands, used clothing spread atop sheets on the sidewalk, fresh fish — many are still hopping around, wondering where the water went — beans, of course, and ladies selling various foods and munchies. I think what I like best is the vat of oil that fries pigskins.

It’s the smell, which reminds me of my childhood on the Georgia farm.

But the big news of today is that the sky is mostly blue. It did not rain yesterday and, the Goddess willing, it will not rain today … or tomorrow … and so on.

It’s time for the annual rains to halt. I think that would have happened already were it not for the hurricane out in the Pacific. It’s gone ashore now, far north of us, and is petering out, which is what you want hurricanes to do.

It gave us lots of rain and, in the nearby capital city, plenty of street flooding; in some places up to three feet deep. We drove down a street there Tuesday where people had their furniture on the sidewalk drying it out or throwing it away. It reminded me of Houston or New Orleans.

But people in Houston or New Orleans can better bear the financial hit.

But it’s gone now, that storm, and I’m optimistic as we head into the best month of the year here on the mountaintop. November is as good as it gets.

The Day of the Dead is next week, and sugar skulls, etc., are on sale around the plaza downtown. Come visit. Everyone else will be here, it seems.

With a touch of luck, it won’t rain.

Till next June.

Getting up quite early

color
Our cool morning world today.

I’M AN EARLY riser. I also like cool weather, which is one reason I live on a mountaintop and not on the edge of a beach. I sweated enough all those years in New Orleans and Houston.

This morning, I was up at 5:15. I was wearing a tank top — still am as I write this — and after checking the dismal news on both sides of the border on my H-P desktop, I slipped on my terraza sandals and went outside.

The thermometer on the wall told me it was 66 degrees. It was overcast, apparently due to a big storm in the Pacific. I liked the look of things. And the sound. There wasn’t much sound aside from the chickens next door.

Things looked good, so I got my camera and took the shot. See that tallest tree there in the yard? That’s the damnable peach, which trashes the grass every summer. That baby is coming down early next year, to my child bride’s dismay.

We’ll be installing a nice stone patio in the whole area. No trash trees allowed.

Maybe we’ll get some rain today due to the storm. That would be good and cooling. But I hope it doesn’t start before 10 a.m. because that’s when Abel the Deadpan Yardman comes to cut the grass.

But now it’s time to head downstairs for croissantitos and marmalade.

downs