Things in Florida are messy, but clean-up is underway. Friends and family are safe. It's close to tourist season!
See you here next Tuesday.
When those waters finally fell away, Cornelius looked out at the mountains of ruins—some as high as the steeple atop St. Louis Cathedral.
. . .
He dried his eyes.
For his spirit and will were waterproof.
from: Marvelous Cornelius Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans
by Phil Bildner
illustrated by John Parra
My older daughter’s cancelled 21st birthday celebration revolved around a potential hurricane. Tropical storm Josephine did not develop into a hurricane, but sustained high winds and even higher gusts called for cancelling classes at Florida State. On her birthday. So no party that evening. As an adult, she took the disappointment in stride and celebrated the following weekend. As an adult, I told her to hide under something heavy and lock her doors.
Hurricane season is June 1 – November 30. A lot of damage can occur in that time frame. Each storm leaves devastation in its wake for miles and months. My husband and I have a very small place in Naples, about 2 miles inland. I’m expecting the worst.
But most of my thoughts are for the places I know so well, and the people who work there. The library and my favorite librarian. The city park. The zoo. The shops owned by local people. The local market and grocery stores. The little Italian restaurant that has the best pizza I’ve ever tasted. All the people whose lives will need to be rebuilt and their homes and businesses that may or may not be. Year-round friends and friends who spend 6-8 months there. An aunt and uncle and several cousins in Tampa. All in Irma’s path.
My ties to Florida are long. Some are deep. I’ve been visiting for over 30 years. Marjory Kinnan Rawlings (who wrote The Yearling) said: There is an affinity between people and places. I feel that affinity with South Florida. Although I don’t want to live in Florida, I love the pelicans, the egrets strutting on their long black legs and bright yellow feet, the sansevieria growing wild, the silhouette of a coconut palm waving good-night to me at sunset. The lapping waves, the wild beauty of The Everglades. The quiet beauty of the sunrise over the gulf. Warm sand. Warm, tropic breezes.
Mother Nature, do what you have to do. For whatever reasons you have or for no reason at all. But please, be kind to the people.
“In distant Karnak lies the Palace of the Crocodile Prince. Go there and bring back the golden Jewel Fish that the Crocodile took from me. If you do this, I will pardon you.”
Jackal and Ibis leapt to their feet. “We will do it!”
from The Jewel Fish of Karnak
written and illustrated by Graeme Base
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2011
My parents taught me to say “excuse me” for all the burps, coughs, and other noises my body made. I wondered why I needed to excuse those behaviors since I (nor anyone else for that matter) had any control over those sounds.
Bumping into someone or stepping on a toe (literally or figuratively) required a request for a pardon.
“Pardon me,” shorthand for “What did you say?” is a nice way to say “Huh?” or “What?” My parents were pretty strong on teaching us politeness, manners. Those lessons have served me well all these years.
Asking for pardon implied that I had committed a wrongful or thoughtless or potentially embarrassing act, accidentally. It implied that I did something wrong and admitted it. It required accepting the pardon or forgiveness, from the person I had wronged, if it was offered.
It was never okay with my folks to do something wrong or hurtful or hateful on purpose and not feel sorry. I was expected to try to make it up to the person I hurt.
My mom had a story about conscience. I may have mentioned it before, but it bears repeating. It is a Native American idea. Mom said my conscience is a pointy triangle in my heart. When I do something wrong, my conscience-triangle turns. It hurts. And like water dripping on a stone, or slowly turning a dimmer switch, finally I will notice the stone has a slight depression, or finally I will notice the light is fading.
The corners of my conscience will wear away like that, and pretty soon, I won’t even feel it turning. I could do any bad thing and not feel the sorry-pain of my conscience-triangle turning in my heart. My mom kept me from going to that scary, bad place with her story.
Some people have conscience-triangles that have completely worn away. Their conscience spins and spins around and around in their hearts and they don’t even notice.
Offering pardon to a person who incites hatred and fear should never be allowed. Accepting that pardon for the purpose of instilling more fear and hatred is despicable.
I’m sure my mom would agree.
I'm a children's writer and poet intent on observing the world and nurturing those I find in my small space .