2017-09-20 / Editorials

Don Lively

COME AND GONE

In and out. Just like it sounds. Not, In-N-Out Burger, the extremely overrated fast food joint chain that originated in, where else, California.

I'm referring to Irma.

You remember Irma, right?

She didn't hang around our neck of the woods for very long so you can be excused if you missed her.

She was in and out in just a few hours.

Irma was overrated too, if you want my honest opinion.

To be fair, by the time Irma arrived locally, she'd blown out a lot of her meanness and had been downgraded to a mere tropical storm.

I don't mean to make light of the damage that was done to our neighbor to the south. I have friends and relatives all over the Sunshine State and I prayed hard for their safety and security.

But the 24/7 cable news weather guessers had been predicting that our area was in for some devastation too.

Meh.

Riding out Hurricane Gaston, hunkered down in a third floor condo right on the ocean in Charleston, a dozen or so years ago was worse, if storms scare you, or better if you fancy yourself an amateur storm chaser like I do.

So, Irma didn't live up to her billing locally, but still, there was a lot of rain and some moderately high winds, so, it seemed that the only logical course of action was to get out in it.

So, we did.

We tried to be good, obedient Southerners by preparing ahead of time and by planning to stay indoors for the duration of the storm, just like local county and state officials advised us to do. That was the plan and that was how we began the day.

That didn't last long.

We texted my brother Willie and his bride Miss Debbie to check on them. They live all of 300 yards from us but being in the woods we couldn't see how they were fairing. Their response to our message proved that they were just as bored and cabin feverish and we were.

"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more."

Perhaps quoting Shakespeare to describe our foray into a moderate band of nasty tempered squalls is a tad dramatic, but, we did end up running into quite a bit of climatic theatrics.

We loaded the four of us into my pickup and headed for our first stop, The Pond. Until a year or so ago, a storm like Irma would have washed out the road but we've recently semi paved it so that it holds up much better to runoff. But, before we even got to the entry, we found a downed tree blocking the road. Willie and I, with an assist from my trusty Husqvarna, quickly rendered the tree into firewood. We found The Pond road in fine shape and both the swimming hole and the fishpond still within their banks and flowing just fine.

Next destination, the river roads, mostly dirt and mostly untraveled by any other curious, adventuresome looky-loos.

Dirt roads around these parts are legendary. They can be rutted and slick and cratered and muddy on the best of days. You can imagine what they were like with the constant heavy downpour.

Riding dirt roads is such an iconic part of our culture in the Blessed South that we weren't about to let a free, weather-related day off go to waste.

It turned out to be quite an adventure.

We had to backtrack no less than six times due to more trees down across the roadways. Bigger trees than we were desirous of wrestling with since we had already cleared one from our own family land.

We tried to get down to the river on two different landing roads but both were impassable.

We found a large metal silo, once known as a Butler Barn, that had blown off its foundation and was rolling around free and loose.

Every pasture we passed had cattle bunched up together under large trees, using each other's bodies for protection.

Somebody commented that the cows has sense enough to seek shelter, unlike certain humans.

After several hours we went back to the wooded enclave to take a break.

Then, after using the facilities, getting drinks and packing some food, on a unanimous vote, we headed back out.

Once more unto the breach.

Too dramatic?

Maybe.

Irma, thanks for the memories.

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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