Mack Williams: Food for thought in aftermath of Ian

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 15, 2022

I have put together here a series of personal happenings and impressions during the time Tropical Storm Ian came through my area.
Ian’s wind began to howl! I won’t say “The wind began to switch,” because that’s the first line of the song Dorothy (Judy Garland) sang about the arrival of the tornado in “The Wizard of Oz”(1939).
The more powerful wind and rain gusts made me remember those stormy scenes of the Irish coast in the David Lean film, “Ryan’s Daughter”(1970). And of course, the name “Ian” is Irish.
Around 10:30 p.m., the lights flickered, as if saying “One, two, three — You’re out!” Where I live, I’m always pre-warned by a couple of light “flickerings.” The third “flicker” usually has an “e-e-e-x-x-t-t-t-e-e-e-n-n-n-n d-d-d-d-e-e-e-d lifetime of several hours to half a day.
I had my head lamp ready (actually, “camp light;” even though I have a lot of Welsh blood, I don’t have a coal miner’s lamp always ready).
I found some entertainment with my battery-powered AM/FM radio and my little battery-powered short-wave. Come to think of it, the only time I ever use my short-wave radio is when the power goes out! I guess my powerless situation in the night somehow makes me want to find re-assurance that the extended world “goes on!”
The only light which “came on” the following morning, returned by degrees, the measured degrees in the sky. When there was enough of this natural light, I thought about going to a fast-food restaurant somewhere in the “powered” part of the city to pick up food and coffee. A Hardee’s and McDonald’s in sight of each other seemed to be surrounded by concentric circles of cars which “snaked” out into traffic, obstructing one lane. Those movies about nuclear war always depict traffic jams, but leave out a mad dash to Hardee’s and McDonald’s.
I stopped in at another restaurant that had less of a line; but their internet was down, and they only took cash. Unfortunately, I hadn’t followed the admonition: “Always have cash on hand!”
Since breakfast time was in danger of heading towards brunch, I decided to cross the State Line (head to Yanceyville, 11 miles away). The McDonald’s there was uncrowded and my “to go” order became “on the go,” as I consumed it (carefully) on the way back home.
Shortly after returning home, the power returned! It had gone out with a gale, but returned with a low buzz (the sound of my refrigerator returning to life).
While driving, I had seen the wind-plucked, still summer-green leaves cover the usual parking lot litter of masks, plastic bags, flossing sticks, etc., almost to the point of that man-made trash’s invisibility.
A WWII howitzer in my city, long ago dedicated as a soldier monument/memorial was almost covered with leafy branches (the howitzer seemed powerless in helpfulness, as if it had been “outgunned” by the storm).
Parked, city-owned scooters and bicycles provided for the public’s use lay scattered, municipal property seemingly “vandalized” by Tropical Storm Ian!
Torn-off pine branches lay next to branches ripped from deciduous trees. The first, had no “intention” of ever being anything but green; but those belonging to the second group had been robbed of the colorful glory of what would have been their soon-to-be, final weeks of life.
Some well-kept grassy lawns were now completely covered with single, wind-torn verdant leaves. It seemed to give the impression: “kudzu gone wild overnight!”
Other yards were covered with what looked like “bouquets of leaves.” Each consisted of a tree branch a foot-or-so in length, containing several twigs, with each twig containing several leaves. But despite the “flowers,” Tropical Storm Ian had made a bad impression!
Thinking back, it was only after my stomach was full, my hunger sated, and the “fire”(electricity) in my “cave”(apartment) was restored, that I “fleshed out” these thoughts and impressions about the storm-related wonders I’d seen.

O well, such is the story of the human stomach and the human brain, in past “cave-time,” and in the “here-and-now.”

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