Well, it wasn’t exactly a jiggity jog home after a trip to the market, nor was it the things that nursery rhymes are made of, but we made it through one more storm and are none the worse for the wear.
As we spent all day last Monday making preparations at our Miracle Bayou Tree House and at Camp Dularge, I snapped photos to share with you, forgetting that our evacuation destination did not have any internet capabilities; and since I don’t own a laptop with wireless service, or an I-pad with wifi, the photos just sat in my camera until today.
It’s sort of anti-climactic at this point to share them and the stories behind them, but I will do so for the new readers who didn’t follow us through the catastrophic duos of Gustav and Ike back in the fall of 2008.
Underneath the Miracle Bayou Tree House is a hodgepodge of things that really belong in a (non-existent) shed, plus the kitchen cabinets (flooded twice already), refrigerator, and clawfoot tub salvaged from our old storm-ravaged home. We huddled them altogether under the center of the house, tied them down, securing them from high winds the best we could.
On the front porch, we tied things together, including my baby cypress tress that will soon be planted behind our house to serve as a hurricane wind-break in future years.
Oh, and I have to mention this sad little Satsuma tree that our oldest son brought The Captain last fall from one of his boat ventures. The tree has been through a lot of stress–with all of its leaves dropping to the ground about the time the blossoms came out earlier this spring. I thought it was dead for sure, but one blossom obviously managed to hang on, and this little Satsuma was destined to grow to ripeness–unless it gets blown off by Hurricane Isaac.
Even though the newly-installed storm shutters gave me a great sense of security from wind-blown debris, they did very little to banish that sinking feeling that our home was still easy prey for would-be looters who will stop at nothing to get what they came for during the throes of the storm when no one is around to see them or stop them. I guess once you’ve been looted, no amount of security can ever hold those thoughts at bay.
My thoughts were a lot like those as we departed for Hurricane Rita back in 2005; namely, that we would probably be back the next day. And then I caught myself. Did I not learn anything from our experience with Hurricane Rita back in 2005?
Some of you already know the story. After finally coming home to clean up wind damage from Hurricane Katrina, Rita was growing bigger by the minute in the Gulf and heading west of us. Even so, we were under mandatory evacuation and headed north 30 miles to Thibodaux, where our three adult children were living at the time. We didn’t take an abundance of things, as the storm was scheduled to make landfall 180 miles to the west and not pose much of a threat to us at all, making us think we would return the very next day. Such was not the case.
Most of you know the rest of that story–our home flooded and was looted at the height of the high water, all of our valuables were taken and most of our things tossed into the muddy, nasty waters during the ransack. Six weeks later, we finally returned to our blighted property, and things just never seemed quite the same.
So, this time I changed my thinking, said a prayer, jumped in the truck knowing it might be for the long haul. If by chance our home gets looted again, then we will deal with it when the time comes. The hurricane slogan went through my mind as we drove away, “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
I’m thankful to say that the worst thing we experienced before, during, and after Hurricane Isaac was boredom. My son’s house does not have any kind of TV reception, so we could not watch hurricane tracking updates, and it doesn’t have any kind of internet. However, it did manage to maintain electricity throughout the whole storm, and we didn’t suffer at all. Not one bit.
I read a book, the boys watched movies and played X-box. I took a couple walks when it wasn’t raining too hard to what they call the downtown marina in Houma, which sits on the edge of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and Bayou Terrebonne. I wanted to see how high the water was rising in the Intracoastal to help me gauge whether there might be more flooding down the bayou. (I didn’t have my camera with me, so I used my cell phone. Okay, I know everyone does that, but this wasn’t an I-phone, and the quality isn’t that great, but I will use them here anyway.)
Sometimes, boaters coming across the Intracoastal stop at this little marina, tie up, spend the night, etc. It’s a quaint place, with a walking track, a playground (I helped build a couple years ago), and a fountain that features a Houma Indian standing in the middle holding up a fish. I love that statue.
Even though I walked there to check the water levels, I was rewarded with something totally unexpected–a small fleet of shrimp boats–all sizes–tied up bow-to-stern, generators humming. As I looked inside the first boat, I saw people in the wheel house talking and laughing. On another boat, the crew was cooking something delicious smelling on the back deck. On yet another, folks sat in the galley drinking, talking, laughing, maybe playing cards.
There seemed such a sense of peace and camaraderie among them–something that landlubbers can’t possibly comprehend during the time of a hurricane. Many years ago, my inlaws (and even The Captain) always took refuge from a hurricane on their boats, and they passed the storms in great safety. That is where this sense of security comes from–tradition and experience.
These sea-going families were in the safest, most secure place they could be–on their boats. The atmosphere around them seemed almost festive, as though they had not a care in the world and not a second thought about not having cable TV or internet.
And I was envious.
This image speaks volumes to me, and that is why I asked my friend, Shoreacres, to share it with you until I could get back here and give you the background story. I hope the photo evokes in you the feeling of safety, security, and community that it did in me. Those feelings are still with me, which makes me want to go deep inside myself and find out why.
Maybe it’s because my Danish ancestors were Vikings (as Capt. Swallow, our resident historian, has pointed out to me), and those feelings are a throwback to times when my ancestors were in their own safe harbor. Maybe the feelings emanate from my Grandmother Anna Christina Hansen, who came over from Denmark on a ship at the young age of 14 to find her own safe harbor in America.
And maybe the envy I feel is just a deep-seated desire to return to safer times and stay there forever, escaping the uncertainty of Hurricane Isaac and the future.
Whatever the reasons, we are truly safe here at home, with nothing but broken branches and leaf littler to deal with. Even Lady Gray and her daughter offspring fared the storm quite well in their little chicken tractor. For all these things, I am very, very grateful.
And as I sit here typing this to you, Alligator Season has re-opened, having been postponed since Wednesday, shrimp boats are heading back out to see what the storm pushed in, and this captain is turning her monocle toward launching her boat early tomorrow morning to see just what kind of fishes the storm surge pushed into her nearby lake.
Safe harbors, my friends!
PS: The little Satsuma made it through the 80 mph winds!