2017-09-13 / Editorials

Don Lively


I never panic.


I pride myself in keeping a relatively cool head when things happen unexpectedly, whether the episode is small, like finding that my truck has a flat tire when I am about to get in it, or, when it's more serious, like when a tire on my truck blows out as I'm traveling seventy-five miles an hour on an interstate highway in heavy traffic.

When I was a street cop I was involved in over a dozen pulse-pounding high speed pursuits.

I was in so many street fights that I lost count.

I was even in one shootout with bullets and buckshot flying inches over my head.

I learned early on that staying calm could help me live to fight another day.

So it wasn't exactly panic that occurred when I got the following text:

"We are getting the paper out early due to the hurricane. Is there any way we can get your column by morning?"

No panic.

Just minor anxiety.

Because “by morning” meant a few hours from then, not the three days I normally would have had. I hadn't written a word and had no clue what I was going to scribble about.

Then it hit me.

Do a two-parter, pre storm and post storm.

So, regardless of when you are reading this, it was written before Irma arrived. Next week, if we all survive the high winds and the slashing rain and the flying debris, we'll talk about what actually happened.

Now before I get too far I have a confession.

I love violent weather.

There, I said it.

One of the reasons that I miss living Out West is the variety of weather related calamities that happen with regularity there.

I lived for thirty years right up against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. During those years a so-called 100 year blizzard seemed to happen every three or four years. On at least a dozen occasions I had to dig my house and cars out of snowdrifts that were measured in feet, not inches. Of course the digging wasn't a great pleasure but I did love sitting inside near a warm fireplace watching and listening to the storms howl all night long. After the worst of it blew out, emerging from indoors and seeing the untracked virgin snow was like entering another world.

In that part of America squalls can arrive out of nowhere blowing so hard that the rain falls nearly sideways with the velocity and ferocity of a swarm of bees.

Hailstorms have been known to cause such massive piles of ice that slides occurred destroying entire houses.

On three occasions I've been so close to lightening strikes that I felt the air ionization.

That'll get your attention.

Yes, I miss my adopted home out there.

So, as the latest Atlantic hurricane slowly makes its way to our neck of the woods, I'm going to take a wait-and-see attitude.

Since I've been back in the Blessed South there have been exactly zero major hurricanes that have struck land until Harvey a couple of weeks ago, even though numerous ones have been predicted and anticipated only to fizzle out somewhere over the ocean or the gulf.

So excuse me if I'm a little bit skeptical.

Like you, I've been watching the 24/7 cable news coverage of Irma's approach and it does appear that this time the weather guessers may have gotten it right.

Here at the wooded enclave the winds have picked up a bit and there's moisture in the air.

The frogs and crickets have gone silent and the trees are bending and bowing more than usual.

My yard mutt Lucy, AKA LooseE, is spending most of her time in her safe spot under the barn.

She seems to know that something is amiss.

We shall see.

At the risk of appearing callous concerning other parts of the country more affected by the hurricane, I'll admit that I will be somewhat disappointed if Irma jilts us and doesn't show up as predicted. I'm not heartless. I've been praying for safety for my friends and family in the storm's path since the first predictions arose.

But I'm one of those fellows that likes being in the midst of the climatic maelstrom, coming out of it adrenaline stoked, anxious to tell the tales.

Which is exactly what I'll do.

Next time around.

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of two books of Southern Humor, Howlin' At The Dixie Moon, and, South O' Yonder. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com.

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