One minute you are outside barefoot enjoying a warm January day in Florida and the next you find yourself bundled up in boots and a scarf, crouched tentatively outside scanning for falling iguanas.
All I have to say is stay weird, Florida. Stay weird.
(I’m happy to report the only exotic animals we’ve seen in this cold snap are our beloved manatees seeking warm waters at the power plant park. They are very much alive and not frozen or falling from the sky. Wow that would be scary, encountering a falling manatee! Did you know the largest adults can weigh up to 2,000 pounds?)
“I bet the lake is frozen and the alligators are all at the bottom wrapped in blankets!”
There aren’t any alligators in Michigan. It’s too cold!
“I bet the alligators all got on a plane and said, let’s go to Florida!”
“Are there penguins in Michigan?”
No. It’s cold but not that cold.
Upon seeing snow outside the airport, before grabbing a handful to make a snowball: “Are there any snakes in the snow?”
Thank goodness no! [YOU MIGHT HAVE GROWN UP IN FLORIDA IF YOU CHECK FOR SNAKES BEFORE PLUNGING YOUR HAND IN WATERY SUBSTANCES.]
p.s. My website was down recently because it is December and my mind is all about making cookies and buying gifts before I have to upgrade to expedited shipping. Oops. We are now back up at www.mourningdovemotherhood.com 😀 Thanks for your patience!
(The Baptists wouldn’t let me take a photo of them. “We aren’t here for the photos! We are just here to help!” they told me.)
Who are the Baptists? A bunch of gray-haired sixty-something men in bright yellow shirts from a Pennsylvania Baptist church who came to Florida to chop up my tree with their chainsaw. (To be fair, they came to chop up lots of trees that happened to include mine.)
They just showed up yesterday and chainsawed the palm tree that was on our tree service guy’s very, very long wait list. Boom, done. For free. Because BAPTISTS.
He and my neighbor swapped heart attack stories (as sixty-something men do) and the Baptist (not John as far as I am aware) said his doctor found a 95% blockage two years ago. Saved his life. Told him he was one lucky fella.
“I told him, not luck. FAITH! I prayed for my heart and for my doctor to fix it and he did.” And two years later here he is volunteering all the way from Pennsylvania.
I’m having a hard time writing which makes no sense to me. Here I sit, in my home, in air conditioning (WE HAVE POWER!!) with precious alone time, of which I had very little during the Irma experience. (And it was an experience.)
And yet. I don’t know what I want to say.
Do I want to write about how grateful I am for safe drinking water, cool air and hot food? (Very.)
Do I want to write about but there for the grace of God go I?
Do I want to write about how quickly chaos can return to normal but normal doesn’t quite feel right after the chaos? (But, but, did you just SEE what happened? Do you see what is still happening?)
Do I want to write about how my understanding of climate change and fossil fuel dependency shifted from a knowing of the head to the knowing of the heart?
Do I want to write about community and love and civility in the midst of crisis?
I want to write about all the things but right now can’t seem to articulate any of them. The words will come. For now, I leave you with pictures from my walk yesterday with the dogs–the first “normal” walk since Irma came a knockin’, but as you can see from the pictures, things are still anything but normal.
I want to keep my hands busy and create something, anything. I want them to work like a spider creates a web and cast a net of protection across everyone I love.
I’m safe and yet I can’t help but think of my neighbors, my friends, and even the strangers who sought water along with me at the Winn Dixie. I think of the habitats: my own–yes–but also the egrets’ and the spoonbills’. I think of the cardinals that visit my feeders. The turtles who laid eggs on the nearest beach.
I sit in my car 773 miles from home and I watch a Georgia peach sunset. So warm and giving and yet the same air that breathes a hurricane.
We are in Dothan, AL, still making our trek west of Irma. She’s a beast. She’s literally like, ha ha you thought you could escape me? Naw I’m gonna go straight up Florida and Georgia and even toward Alabama, you crazy Floridians who thought you could run from me!
The silver lining is that our dream of a BBQ tour of the south is becoming a reality. Last night we are ate a local chain called Full Moon BBQ. It was amazing. My husband ate his entire meal and I kid you not went back to order extra ribs, they were so good.
Today we head further west to Meridian, MS. We will be there for at least three nights with an upgrade in amenities. Kitchenette?! Heck yeah! Free hot breakfast? Bring it on!
👍Tip for evacuees: once you know where you are headed, Priceline has some “express deals” for hotels in places where otherwise no bookings to be found. You select star level and don’t find out the hotel until you book. But really, who doesn’t love a surprise? I mean other than discovering a 🐱5 hurricane is headed your way. That’s not a fun surprise.
If anyone has BBQ joint recommendations in central-East Mississippi, send ’em my way.
Really, it is all I need other than my husband, daughter and dogs.
The crate contains my wedding album, a photo from my grandmother I never met of her on her wedding day, the rosary my mother held in her nerve-damaged hands as she witnessed my marriage, and a few other precious keepsakes.
As I surveyed my house, taking photos that will serve as the “before” pictures in case of damage from Irma’s rain and wind, I’m surprised to find myself strangely liberated. The end tables, the stacks of political memoirs and bird identification books and computer programming manuals, the shoes that should have been replaced long ago, it can all be replaced. We will be okay no matter what unfolds.
What would you bring if you had to evacuate?* Would it fit in one yellow crate? I think you’d be surprised to discover that it would.
(*We aren’t under mandatory evacuation but we are most definitely in the “cone of danger” as a Southwest Florida resident. Stay safe one and all. Thank you to all the fire fighters and rescue crews who are sticking around to help others. You are true heroes.)
A few months ago my friend gave me a plumeria cutting. Even if you have never heard of Plumeria I guarantee you have seen their blossoms: they produce the beautiful flowers that are used in making Hawaiian leis.
When my friend offered me a Plumeria tree cutting I jumped at the chance to grow one. Until I saw what I had to work with:
That photo isn’t of my actual stick but I can promise you it looked just like that photo. I didn’t think to take a picture of it, likely because I did not think it would grow. I mean it is a stick. A stick that is supposed to grow into an exotic tropical flower plant. I have never grown a plant from cutting, let alone a fancy pants tropical tree.
Well, I love a good challenge. I decided what the heck, I would try to grow it. I bought root hormone (who knew such a thing existed), followed some youtube videos on the topic, placed it in a semi-sunny and not too wet region of my lanai, and I left it alone. This is very important according to the horticulturist from Hawaii who is on YouTube. He grows hundreds of these sticks cuttings. Leave it alone! he told me. Do not pull or tug or mess with it! (How did he know that is exactly what I would have done??) The fragile roots need lots of time to grow and grow and grow.
I left it alone. It was so hard but I did not poke or tug or anything.
About a month or two later a leaf appeared. I went bananas bonkers. Oh my goodness it was growing!!
Again, I didn’t take any photos because I think I was still in disbelief, but it looked basically just like this:
Now, several months after that first sign of growth, I am very excited to share a photo of what it looks like today:
Wow right? Look at all those huge tropically leaves! It is amazing.
Keep the faith. So often when we feed a garden, whether inner or outer, it can feel like nothing is happening. And then, boom, growth.
I hope that the next post I show are of blossoms. (Inner and outer both.)
(And just as beautiful: my husband can no longer joke about my black thumb. Yeah that’s right hubs, you are looking at a wife who grew a plant from a literal stick placed into soil*. Bow down sir. Bow down.)
*I just accidentally typed “placed into soul” instead of “soul” – revealing no?