Heralds of Katrina
25 August 2005, #7
1 PM: Katrina still twirls off the coast. Digitized pinwheels crowd the Weather Channel screen while outside our window the clouds boil. Kisses from the outermost bands, though "band" is a misnomer; instead, droplets of radar green sprinkle the county. Light rain teases. Katrina's handmaidens spill across the sky, tapping our shoulders.
So beautiful. So ignorant of the destructive power that gives them life.
I will take the beauty. They are tigers overhead, wild beasts roaming the sky. They bear distinctive markings, individual personalities. Even in the midst of shape-shifting, they tell me who they are....
25 August 2005, #10
1:50 PM. When I arrive at our writing group the northern sky is almost black. A fat streak of lightning blazes a straight shot down; less than a second later the whip of thunder cracks. I want to wait out in the open for the next one, its flash mesmerizing and deadly as a cobra, but I know better. Rationally. Wistfully. Rumbles follow me to the door.
L, who sits opposite me today, is equally besotted. "I have never seen skies like what we have down here," she says. "Never. Anywhere."
25 August 2005, #12
4:30 PM. After the meeting I steel myself to watch the road and not the sky while driving. As soon as I park outside the supermarket I grab the camera again. A slight tilt of the head and I have left behind Winn-Dixie, Hungry Howie's, Movie Gallery, and the rest of the strip mall. We have been through one cloudburst already. Saturated air clings to me with viscous heat.
25 August 2005, #14
4:55 PM. I have bought nothing out of the ordinary: bread and cheese, orange juice, peanuts, raisins. A birthday card. Toilet paper. Our hurricane supplies have been waiting at home since June, non-perishable foods packed in boxes. We do not expect much of an impact where we are, so long as Katrina goes where she is expected to go.
But we are so small, and the sky is so big. Clouds and storms follow their own dictates.
25 August 2005, #17
5:05 PM. Mary had been sawing wood when I left the house. When I returned with mail and groceries I spotted her finished hatch cover closing off the attic from the garage. It is thick plywood now, better able to withstand the suck of a mini-tornado. Last summer, during Frances, our old hatch had lifted and settled back down, askew.
10:00 PM. We flick on the Weather Channel; Katrina is crossing the Everglades. Two people are dead from fallen trees; hundreds of thousands have lost power.
In the kitchen sink a small spider struggles to wrap its web around an earwig six times its size. They are a brief diversion from the mammoth weather. The earwig curls and uncurls, tries to whip its body free of the silk while the spider perseveres with frenzied diligence. They are both beneficial insects; I can't take sides.
Finally the earwig triumphs and drops free, hurrying across dull yellow enamel painted with white Bin to counteract the rust. We need new plumbing there, haven't used the sink in months. We have the pieces, just need to get them installed. Until then a small community of insects lives inside the bowl, consumed with matters of life and death.
The spider fidgets for a bit, then settles into what I can only call resignation. The earwig tries to climb its lemon-colored horizon. We wait for news.