Tuesday, June 26, 2012


It’s a bit nippy on the shady side of the street outside No Joes this morning as I sip my brew, aptly named: sledgehammer. This sunny, dry, fall-like weather won’t last. I already see thick clouds closing in—boding a return to the violent summer storms of the past few days.

And that’s okay by me. The storms may be inconvenient, but that doesn’t measure up to REAL summer weather. By that I mean FLORIDA weather. When the worst of the storm hit several days ago, turning the daytime black, with claps of thunder loud enough to shake the dog, I was alone and calm, feeling entirely SAFE. This old Dutch colonial is nothing if not sturdy, with plaster walls so thick you cannot hear from room to room.

At that very moment, my “home” in Sarasota was among the towns being battered and flooded by Tropical Storm Debby. Almost the entire state was underwater and threat of tornadoes, expected to continue for up to five days. Yes, folks, that DAYS, not hours. And it’s a trop storm, not even a hurricane!

As I hung out of my friends cozy couch to wait out the NJ storm, my thoughts flickered to a major drive in leaving the sunshine state in summer—and gratitude washed over me—gratitude for my friend,s generosity of spirit in opening her home to me each summer.

Until I moved to Florida a decade ago, storms were inconvenient, as a journalist there was a bit of a pain, but never were they fearful. As a child growing up on the north shore of Long Island, the hurricanes that reached us were fun times, lit with the glow of candles and flashlights. Of course, it’s easy to be brave in a brick split level under the protection of loving parents. Not having to travel to work also helps.

Unfortunately, I do not live in a condo of brick, or stone, or masonry of any sort. I am one of the other little pigs of story lore, who build—perhaps bought—her house of sticks. Yupper, it’s a 1970s wood condo with a metal roof. The sound of rain bouncing off said roof is enough to drown out the loudest of TV audio.

(An aside: this “house of sticks” is a grand metaphor for me life, eh? Unlike my friends and family who have built their “houses of brick.” Just thought I’d say it before someone like my son pointed it out.)

On the, albeit mild, plus side, Sarasota is considered a relatively secure site, storm wise. Longtime residents crow that the town is a “sacred” place, protected against extreme elements. They point to the area as one the native Indians fled to escape storms in years gone by. In my view however, such arrogance in unfounded, as Sarasota is merely the highest ground around. Note I said highEST which is not all that high. And my particular condo complex is on its crest.

The roads around me flood, but so far, the unit has remained dry. This is particularly fortunate as I no longer have a lick of insurance, sorta going commando.

I try not to think about the wind.

To sum up: Tropical storm there + me here = GRATITUDE

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