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"A Note From The Swamp"

I remember a particular winter night in Buffalo...
A teenage girlfriend and I were walking slowly around Soldiers Place,
the snow was swirling past the old-fashioned streetlights
like in those glass winter scene globes you shake.

It was a seriously romantic moment,
even thought the relationship later melted away.

I owe that good memory to Buffalo.
It could not happen here in Gator Land.
Storms are no fun here.

 *     *     *
It has been a pretty tense 24 hours here in Central Florida.

Charley was a category 4 hurricane
and had its eye on us,
so we threw each other into huge waterproof garbage bags,
along with our most prized trash,
and checked into the Bates Motel around the corner.

We watched the storm reports and ate junk food
right up until it was getting ready to hit us.
Then the power went off,
along with the TV, A/C, and our sense of decorum.

The wind was howling,
and electrical transformers exploded all around.

We had bought a little battery operated television,
but we couldn't get any batteries,
so we stared at the portable radio, by candlelight.
It got hot in there fast.

On the radio they said that Charley was tearing up our town
but we didn't look out the window.
Things were banging on it.
We later found out they were shingles and parts of trees.

About an hour later the worst was over.
We tried to call our neighbors
but the motel phones weren't working,
and our cell phone battery was low.
We wondered if we had a home to go back to.

We stood in the open motel room door
with our arms around each other
and watched the last feeder bands blow things around.
The frogs had started saying Budweiser
which Misty says is a sign that the storm is over.
She's part Indian, and very good at reading Nature.
I acted like I believed her.

Finally we closed and locked the door
to keep out the bad guys,
and we tried to get some sleep.
Motel windows don't open any more.

The first things we noticed were:
It was hot...
The air was still...
and it was too quiet,
except for the obligatory motel neighbor
who likes to open and close doors all night.

We turned the radio on,
and after searching through a lot of hip hop stations
and disgustingly perky DJ's,
we found the hurricane reports again.
They helped us sleep a little.

Today we came home
and our place looks like a spilled ashtray.

The good news is:
Our power is on, and we can live here, with a tarp over the roof,
until help comes.
We may get wet.

There is also some other damage,
but we're alive and in air conditioning.

Thanks to all who called to see how we're doing.
We appreciate your caring.

Guess what...
I just heard thunder.

Jack Blanchard

P.S. A big tree was down right next to our room.

Copyright  Sept. 1, 2004, Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission.


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