Look for the helpers. (They are in the yellow shirts!)

Palm tree, meet Baptist.  Baptist, meet fallen palm tree.

(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.

Look for the helpers my friends.

A slow return to normal

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.

(Photos taken 9/19/17:)

The non-native shrubs lining our neighborhood did not fare well
trees down every where you look
So many trees uprooted (and people, too)
A lot of devastation at the lake near our home. The lake is still flooded (the water in front should not be there). We have seen record-breaking rainfall this year.
There is a little blue heron in there. Can you find it?
Curbs lined with debris for pickup. 

BBQ tour of south (AKA hurricane Irma evacuation)

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.

One yellow crate

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.)