Author, Lecturer, Ethicist

Awaiting Matthew

As I compose this piece, the sky is beginning to darken and the wind is picking up.  Hurricane Matthew is inexorably building and getting ever closer to South Florida.  Precisely where it makes landfall and what devastation it will wreak is anyone's guess.  In the back of my mind I have this recurring image of Rick, Ilsa and Sam upstairs at La Belle Aurore, nervously awaiting the Nazi march into Paris.  At one point, listening to the pounding of "the new German 77s," Rick pulls at his earlobe and opines that from the sound, they are about 30 miles away.  Sam, pouring three glasses of champagne says "this will take the sting out of being occupied."  Rick clinks glasses with Ilsa, offering filmdom's most famous toast, "Here's looking at you, kid."  And they await the inevitable . . .

That's the way it feels here in South Florida; we are awaiting the inevitable.  Whether or not Matthew makes land in Key West, Ft. Lauderdale or north of Palm Beach is of little importance; the entire coast is going to take a hit.  Annie and I have done what we can to prepare: we have lots of water, a small "safe room," two dozen cans of tuna, kibble for Fred, canned treats for Shlomo, batteries for our flashlights, and a prayerful attitude.  That's about all we can do.  Having been through a couple of catastrophic hurricanes, we are veterans; weary, worried, and realistic.   

In Washington, President Obama has announced that Florida will be receiving all the post-hurricane aid it needs; Governor Scott has declared the entire state a disaster area.  I wonder if the Trump campaign staff is debating how they can blame whatever happens on Obama, Clinton and the Democrats. 

The rain is picking up.

As a native Californian, I have lived through a handful of devastating earthquakes.  As a nearly 35-year resident of Florida, I have also experienced more hurricane watches and actualities than I care to remember.  But you know something?  I will take an earthquake over a hurricane any day.  Why?  Well, despite the fact that both can and do cause catastrophic damage and there is somewhere between little and nothing one can do to fend off the inevitable, at least with earthquakes there isn't the added angst of counting down the days, hours or minutes until touchdown.  Earthquakes just happen . . .

The rain has let up just a tad, even as the winds are picking up.

Hurricanes and earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and wintry blizzards all serve to remind people just how ineffably awesome and powerful the forces of nature truly are; and of how infinitesimally puny we homo sapiens are.  For me, they also serve as a warning about tampering with the forces of nature, whether through fracking, polluting or a thousand-and-one other ways we assert our so-called dominion over the works of creation.

For the nonce, the rain has stopped and there is an eerie breathlessness hanging about the palm trees.

I'm going to sign off in a sentence or two and start putting towels against the interior walls of the sun room, taking Fred out for a brisk walk, taking a hot shower and a shampoo, and praying.

If you get a chance, and it's not against your sensibilities, you might utter a silent prayer or two for all those living on the Eastern Seaboard. And whether you pray from left-to-right or right-to-left; in English, German, French or Creole, in Hebrew, Arabic or Amharic is of little consequence.  We need it . . .

The wind is once again picking up.  The Germans are getting ever closer to Paris and unlike Rick, Ilsa and Sam, we don't have a drop of champagne to our name. 

What we do have are prayer and hope . . . as well as a dusty bottle of Courvoisier.

Be safe, be good to yourselves, and don't take any unnecessary chances.


Copyright©2016 Kurt F. Stone