Post-Hurricane World

Storm winds visited us recently. At four a.m. I woke to darkness within and an odd pressure without. Moving to the front of the house, I watch and listen as trees bend in half, windows rattle and walls shake. My bare feet step in the cold water of a small puddle. Wind has pushed rain under the door. I push back with a large towel. Husband and the children, in the newer part of the house, slumber on. I too climb under the duvet and huddle, waiting for the storm to pass.

The winds eventually die away; the rain remains a steady drizzle. Tree limbs litter our yard, lay across power lines in the alley. Rain has flooded our street, and my car. We don slickers and walk the neighborhood. Many streets are blocked. Here an ancient tree has shattered. There a tall cedar, a warrior in its prime, has fallen. I bend over to touch it, pay my respects. When I leave, I take a branch fragment with me, cones still green.

Everywhere we look, we see downed trees. On the corner four streets away, we see a roof line cloven in two, people packing their car to seek shelter elsewhere. Could have been worse, we all say to each other.

In the rain, we clear our yard, and yards adjacent. We stack limbs and branches, rake up loose pieces, sweep the road of leaves and pine needles. Then we lay down our rakes and walk some more.

It will take time to survey the full extent of the damage. For now, we walk and as we walk, sometimes our hands bump.

Clearing out the Underbrush

This weekend husband and I worked in the yard. Wild trees had grown up in the lobelia. Morning glory had killed a flowering bush. The gardenias had died a mysterious death after a neighbor did work on the fence. Plants grown familiar through repeated weedings choked the rose bushes and the black-eyed susans.

I sat on the front sidewalk and pulled out the runners of St. Augustine that blanketed what used to be mulched flower bed. I reach my fingers in between the stems of the four o-clocks to single out the stalks of wild grass. Husband wields a shovel, digs deep to uproot what does not belong.

We work in separate parts of the yard, a fence, and more, between us. He flops on the grass, his face red under his hat. I pause, scissors in one hand, a rose cane in the other. A reluctant gardener, I still cannot bear to see him wilt. “Do you need me to get you water?”

“No, I have some,” he says. And if later anger makes my hands shake, when I go outside again there is a sense of openness, of space cleared of what kept new things from growing.

The possibility of a new landscape.

Water and Sky

Labor Day has come and gone and with its passing, so too the heat of the summer has eased. Mornings now are cooler – the heat holding off until 10 a.m. or later.

The children and I went to Brazos Bend State Park. The heat started early that day and we took refuge in the Nature Center, where we petted a week-old baby alligator. We walked around a lagoon with its coterie of ducks and the occasional egret. We hid from the afternoon heat in a nearby gas station, where we ate french fries and ice cream.

By the late afternoon, the heat was more forgiving and the breeze had picked up. We walked to the far side of the lake and sat on a bluff, on the narrow end of the water, where the reflection of trees lined both sides of the lake and the far end. As we sat, the noise of the cicadas rose and reached a crescendo. A bass jumped once, twice, and kept on going. Son the younger counted seven circles of ripples. A magical number. The number of intuition meets the symbol of fearlessness and freedom of movement.

Later that night we peered through telescopes at Saturn. A night of the new moon, the sky was deep and endless.