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Hunkering down for hurricane season

As we’re already being told ad nauseum, hurricane season is upon us. I’m the first one to admit to being a scaredy-cat when it comes to a land-falling big one, but on the other hand, there are some things to enjoy about the next several months.

Number one at the top of my list — tourist season is over! All my favorite places get quieter and easier once the out-of-state license plates disappear.

On a sticky July Saturday, I can finally snag a seat outside my favorite sidewalk café along Main Street. On a slow Friday night in the dog days, I can actually find a parking spot outside that ultra-hip neighborhood hang-out I can’t get near the rest of the year. I can take a chair in the nearly empty bar, order a chilly Chardonnay, and toss back a few jumbo shrimp, all in relative quiet.

Another upside once the hurricanes start wreaking havoc? I get to see a lot more of my favorite television weatherperson — Channel 7’s Bob Harrigan — a Chief Meteorologist so unflappable, he almost makes me forget my house could be blown away and me and my cats along with it. His calm reporting, even during a state of emergency, reigns in my panic. He could be telling television viewers we’re at DEFCON 1 and I’d still be in my Zen zone as long as he’s smiling, all snug as a bug, pointing out weather patterns from his downtown studio.

Easy access to favorite places and crushes on weathermen aside, there are other, more ephemeral positives to hurricane season.

When a storm is approaching, ancient instincts seems to stir within. Physical senses are heightened. The heavy air, fraught with tension is almost a tangible thing. You find yourself looking skyward as if you can divine what’s coming with some kind of primal knowledge buried deep in your DNA.

And it’s not just you that’s different. Right around June 1st, in the midst of all the hype, the tax breaks, the endless predictions, and equally endless reporting — a collective camaraderie begins to take hold throughout the Sunshine State.

There’s an intangible shift in the local sensibility – an unspoken acknowledgement that we’re all in this together now. The frivolity of season is over and we’re down to the business of living and possibly, surviving. It’s as if a light blanket of humility falls down with the summer rains, making us acutely aware of our vulnerability, helping us feel our humanity toward one another, drawing us closer together as a community.

Each hurricane season, I see the evidence of our better selves emerge in brief, but telling moments. As customers beef up their hurricane supply kits, they swap jokes with store clerks about the bizarreness of spending hard-earned dollars to buy emergency supplies they hope to heck will go unused on a shelf in the garage. Later, when a storm is on the way, strangers in the aisles of Home Depot share advice with each other on how best to batten down the hatches. And when a hurricane does land somewhere — whether in our home state or beyond — Floridians rally to the cause, donating food and water and time and supplies to help people we don’t even know.

Yes, hurricane seasons results in a kind of hunkered-down mentality that leaves our state a bit stir-crazy especially by late September. But for all our complaints, for all the taking down and putting back up again of plywood and storm shutters, the stocking up on bottled water and flashlight batteries, for all the tedious worry about whether a “big one” is coming our way or not … would you really want to be hunkered down anywhere else?

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Posted on May 31st, 2009Comments RSS Feed
One Response to Hunkering down for hurricane season
  1. […] — Oh no. It can’t be true. It’s June 1. What does that mean? Hurricane season! Yes, today, is day zero of the 2009 season, which means it’s prime time for local media to start scaring the hell out of you. […]

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