No Man is an Island
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were.
Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
~ John Donne ~
We were in Gilroy, California, shortly after the recent mass shooting. It had been well over twenty years since we had stopped in the quiet and charming town; but I had decided that I wanted a braid of garlic, from Gilroy. Thus we headed toward the capital of garlic.
After wondering around town, we stepped into their welcome center to find out where we could buy the garlic braid. I looked around the center / shop, and picked up a few things, which we took to the counter to purchase. The very nice woman, behind the counter, was wearing the now, sadly, ubiquitous words, on a t-shirt, fill in the blank with your city’s name “# — Strong”.
Kate spoke to her first, offering her condolences, which the woman seemed genuinely touched to receive; and the three of us began a conversation about the insanity of hate which, of late, seems to dominate our culture.
The three of us conclude our conversation about hate with palatable sorrow; but we all seemed determined to celebrate our, all be it momentarily, connection to each other and therefore the hope humanity provides. Thus she offered us a map, a little garlic shaped pad, and even a car cling; and we bought garlic chips, as the woman suggested them to us (I must say I love these chips!) and a few extra’s just because. We all wish each other well, as we leave.
Less than a month later, I sit at my desk, in Maine, to work on this month’s column, and Florida is most assuredly on my mind. We have been trying to get there for a bit, and I cannot honestly say that until the last 48 hours, Hurricane Dorian played any role in our attempt to schedule travel south. Floridians have a habit of thinking it will all be okay, and this hurricane is not going to impact us; but as I continue to check with NOAA and Bryan Norcross, I cannot seem to ignore this one.
We have been running the available scenarios, and are feeling stuck. Kate has to be at a meeting in Tennessee on Tuesday, and if we get to Florida before the storm, she may not be able to make her meeting. So do we plan to leave afterwards? At the moment, we do not yet know the hurricanes path, and must wonder will the roads be navigable?
In the midst of trying to figure out our next steps, I read an evil comment, by a former Canadian Prime Minster, whose name I will not publish; much like so many of the press will no longer give publicity and credence to mass killers, by using their names. This woman, who hates President Trump, is hoping that the approaching hurricane will destroy his home. That anyone would wish that kind of nightmare on another living soul is unbelievable and inexcusable, but to proudly profess your level of intolerance, hatred, and disregard for humanity, is completely unexplainable. She should be ashamed of who she is, and be sitting in a house of worship someplace trying to find forgiveness and offer penance for being in possession of such a dark heart that proudly boast of her desire for evil.
Does this woman not realize that President Trump will not be the only one impacted, if her wishes are fulfilled? Hurricanes bring a loss of life, of home, of work, of nature, of the familiar, and come with price tags in the billions – money which will need to be spent on rebuilding infrastructure that could have been spent on education and healthcare and the arts! Why would anyone wish destruction on anyone else? Does she truly not understand the damage a hurricane can cause?
After Patty’s graduation, last spring, as we headed toward Texas, we decided to stop and see Mexico Beach; saddened that we had not visited the area before Hurricane Michael’s visit. The pre hurricane photographs of the area, courtesy of the television coverage, post landfall, showed a place we thought we might like to live.
Hurricane Michael had made landfall, in Mexico Beach, on October 10, 2018, around six months before our visit. I am not sure what I expected, but as we got off the interstate and headed toward the beach, the destruction became intently more pronounced.
The first unavoidable sign of what had happened were the endless miles of toppled and bear trees; then the piles of debris came into view. We have lived in Florida long enough to have experienced hurricanes first hand and to have seen their devastation around the state; but this somehow seemed much more intense.
As we pull into town, the blue tarps still abound, as do the remnants of what were once people’s houses. Yes, it was a bright, sunny, beautiful day, yet my heart was broken. I had planned to take a lot of pictures; it is what I do; but I found myself feeling a bit embarrassed, like I was intruding on these souls misery, and held back a bit.
But I saw people working, rebuilding their lives; they had not given up their dreams. Then I began to spot this sign around town.
I love it! They are not quitting, they are not giving up. It may not be quite the same as # Strong, but these people had endured and survived a tragedy and were still in the fight! Hope!
I am worried about this approaching storm. Yes, I know, so far I am writing a lot about me and I and we; that really is where my thoughts are, at the moment. I am glad we defied code enforcement, who asked us to take down the hurricane shutters and that the patio furniture, which I so enjoy sitting on, in the back yard, is safely tucked away in the Florida room; but Joan’s table and benches are outside, in the front of the house. I am glad I have pictures; I am attached to that silly furniture. I remember when Joan bought them, and when she decided to move to the West Coast, which in Florida means the Gulf Coast, and insisted we bring home her patio furniture.
I am also attached to our house, it is filled with memories of so many people who are now gone. But my concerns really do run deeper. Our family in Florida is sadly all gone, but are friends still abound, and as you know, my friends could not mean more to me if we were blood related. Yes, I am worried about each and every of you. Wondering if you are prepared to whether this storm, but also what will happen after the wind and rain have finally ceased; and what about my state, which to me is home.
There is nothing I can do about any of this right now, but pray. I am praying the storm goes out to sea and that its intensity lessons. I also feel a need to focus on our strength, there is so little we can do about so much which impacts our life.
August was both a joyous month and one marked by incredibly difficult and unexpected moments. I am ready for the calendar to read September. That is all for now.