“With No Malice”©2012
A General Interest Opinion Column by an opinionated person.
Vic Topmiller Jr.
“No other factor in history, not even religion, has produced so many wars as has the clash of national egotism sanctified by the name of patriotism.” Preserved Smith.
The Calm Between The Storm
I've got a great story/experience to share with you. It's my first impulsive thought after coining this title. It goes this way -
1964, La Belle, Florida. The news is full of alerts and warning – get ready, hurricane Donna is on the way and there is no doubt, it is going to plow into south and south central Florida. There will be great winds – one hundred and fifty plus miles-per-hour and the possibility of flooding. Start preparing now, have all of your ice trays full and frozen, if your freezer is not full, fill it with jugs of water and only open it when necessary. Prepare for power outages for possibly a week and fill your pantry with canned goods that don't necessarily need cooking. If you live in an area that is prone to flooding or if you or a member of your family is handicapped or convalescent or if you or a member of your family is in the last term of pregnancy move to the designated shelters. Board up and secure windows and doors. Do not observe the hurricane from a window, stay inside, and if required to go outside, stay low and beware of flying debris.
The state weather centers published maps of the hurricane area between West Africa and eastern USA with lats and longs and scales and other pertinent hurricane information. They published these in the daily papers and all you had to do was cut out that page, and you were a hurricane tracker.
Every few hours the radio stations would announce the coordinates of the center of the hurricane, and then I would plot them on the map and attach a new line to the previous creating the path of the wobbling, spinning torrent of wind and water in a rather fickle fashion headed straight for La Belle and my house.
Yes, it couldn't have centered better on my house if it had rifle sights or an iron rail to follow.
One hundred sixty miles an hour. First the wind hits you from one direction depending on your location as a hurricane always spins in a counterclock-wise direction. The palm trees, especially the tall and once regal Royals would be bent almost double, their waving fronds sweeping the ground, the Live Oaks weaving and swaying, not willing to bend, testing their roots and tenacity.
But then, quicker than the winds had arrived, they stopped. So eerie this moment of calm in the “Eye of the Storm." Just step outside, observe the dark sky, assess the tree limbs lying about, search for damage that needs quick attention, look to see if the neighbors are still intact, listen to the sound of silence.
But then, off in the distance the roar of the other side of the storm could be heard, closer and closer, louder and louder as it bears down on you and your location. No time to wait, sprint for the house as the wind accelerates and chases you back into security. Only, this time the wind is attacking from the opposite direction, the other side of the circular hurricane. The palms, already leaning and braced for the wind coming from the other direction snap in their middles, the tops flying to clog drainages and roads and drives. The oaks, which had been so strong and resilient to the wind from the left are now facing a more ferocious wind slamming them from the right. Limbs already weakened and cracked begin to break and fly through the air as shivering kites. The driving wind throwing torrents of rain against the side of the house, the window panes heaving and flexing, desperate to stand against onslaught. Roof shingles and decking flying with dangerous velocity.
But then, as it seemed that all should be lost, that nothing could stand against this storm, the wind began to recede and then recede more and more. The rain began to stop and within an hour or so the hurricane had done its damage and was damaging the neighbor down the road. People were out of their sanctuaries assessing damages. And what damages were sustained would be fixed and life would go from a new point of reference.
But this is not a column about hurricanes, it's about the “Calm Between The Storm." That period between Christmas and New Year when we are forced to listen to left-over rhetoric and posturing for the debates to come in the new year.
I hope you enjoyed the calm as I did. But to say the least, gnawing in my craw, was and is, this feeling that the storm in the new year is set to be more damaging to my world than the one just past.
Yes, you and I are strong and resilient, like the Oak, we stood firm and endured the storm of the previous year, but the storm on the other side of the eye may well hit us with an even more damaging assault. What then?
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, let us finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds.” Abraham Lincoln.
That's My Opinion.