It’s one of the prettiest days we’ve seen in Pensacola for quite a while. At 7:15 this morning when I walked down to the gate to pick up the Pensacola News Journal, there was a whisper of a cool, crisp fall to come, a promise. But between the promise and the delivery, there will be some hot, humid air and maybe Isaac, son of Ivan, to contend with. Latest news has Tropical Storm Isaac roughly 80 miles southeast of Key West. Models are now predicting that the zone of probability for landfall of this large storm has moved slightly to the west, which puts really the entire Gulf Coast in play, including our friends to the west in New Orleans.
The Longleaf woods where Buck and I live are roughly 20 miles inland from the Gulf. Any damage we might sustain here won’t be from storm surge, but wind. Most of the house was built in 2005, to post-Hurricane Ivan stringent wind codes.
So what kinds of precautionary measures are we taking?
Friday, I went to the grocery store and stocked up on the usual suspects: canned goods, a little extra water, peanut butter, and yummy things to help us celebrate life pre-storm. You know, like a chicken to roast, a couple of steaks, chocolate, goat cheese, taboulli, Naked Pitas, and cookies.
I like to load up on comfort food in good times or bad. We ate part of this roast chicken Friday night and some more of it last night. Today, I’ll make chicken stock for the freezer from the bones. From childhood I was taught to salvage the bones. Actually, that’s the title of a phenomenal book I’ve begun reading by Jesmyn Ward. Salvage the Bones, a 2011 National Book Award winner for fiction, tells the story of Esch, a young girl in Bois Sauvage, Louisiana in the days preceding and during Hurricane Katrina. It is fierce, beautiful, and hard to read straight on. I just learned that the author is now an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of South Alabama over in nearby Mobile, Alabama. I would drive there to listen to Ward’s original voice; maybe I can.
I saw one smushed-looking shoe in the middle of the road on the way home from the grocery store Friday. The last time I saw a shoe in the middle of the road it was a red high heel. This one was yellowish-tan, almost like it had been a faux moccasin when it was born. There’s something unsettling about one shoe out there in the middle of the road. It makes me feel like something is coming undone.
While I was out that day, I filled up the car with gas and got some a little bit of cash. Just in case. I always say “just in case” even when I’m not fully sure what that means. You know. Just in case.
Here at the house we’re picking up small things like clay flower pots that could turn into projectiles in a high wind, and patio chairs and putting them in the old red storage shed. Buck cut the grass and added chlorine to the pool. I’m cleaning the house. What for? I do not know. When trouble comes or even the merest shadow of trouble makes itself known, I clean the house. I guess I want to be ready if we have to lock it up and go.
I meant to tell you earlier about this funny looking contraption. It’s an insect trap put out near our stream bed by the Florida Division of Plant Industries. It looks to me like a black granite beach hotel with 360 degree balconies all around. Bugs light on the slippery edge and fall right down into a deadly soup that I was told is a dilute form of antifreeze. I almost had a head-on collision with the nice young woman and her sidekick who come and check the trap every two weeks. They’re trying to find out if any of the bad bugs that infest trees are in the area. I asked if she was having any luck. She shook her head. “Not hardly any at all. All the rain we’ve been having is filling up the traps and washing out the bugs. We only got two here at this one today.” I don’t know where that thing will land in a storm, but it’s doubtful it will still be hanging where it is now.
This grand old oak at the gate that I’ve taken so many pictures of has survived a lot of storms. It was standing in an absolute circle of bright sunlight when I saw it this morning. It was a powerful sight, somehow, almost like the tree was absorbing all the light it could from the surrounding darkness to take that light into its core as protection for what may come on Tuesday or Wednesday. I stood for several minutes myself right up next to the old tree, leaning against it, closed my eyes and felt the morning sun sink in all the way.