Written by: ANGE DOVEL
Living on a rock whose highest elevation is toe level to dear Mother Ocean, I take storms on the radar very seriously. So seriously that when a named storm rolls in our direction, the Weather Channel on the tele replaces my favourite easy-listening station on Alexa, and my most frequented bookmark screen on the computer turns into a kaleidoscope of colourful pictures of the upcoming storm and its pink spaghetti pathways as I frantically visit every weather website available on the world wide web.
Ok, so we are now in the dreaded “CONE”. Any islander will know the angst of looking at a storm tracking site and seeing one’s little dot of a rock buried within that treacherous elongated red balloon that represents a storm’s projected path across the Caribbean basin. Time to get busy.
Storm prep begins. For a normal island dweller, this is an anxious time. For one with OCD tendencies like me, this is a ramped up, gut-wrenching time of utter madness.
First things first. The dry bags come out of their hidey hole. Then comes the nail-biting stage of choosing My Most Valuable Items. Sentimental Me runs circles around Practical Me. Photo albums or computer? Do I really want my old diaries from twenty years ago? They are just rants and rages, but as memory fades with wine and old age, will I need them to have any sort of recollection of my early errant years? Do I have the last VHS player on the planet (won’t fit in the dry bag) or if I take these VHS tapes will it be a waste of space as I will never be able to play them again due to the lack of outdated technology? First aid kit vs my driftwood sculptures?? Aargh, decisions, decisions!
Then comes alcohol inventory. The thought of riding out a storm and the aftermath without sufficient alcohol reserves is utterly unacceptable. Careful math must be done, taking into account normal consumption, then adding in the factor of severe stress, voluntary self-sedation, and the undetermined duration of lockdown. Bottles must be counted as well as frank assessments made of whether or not dusty discards such as that bottle of absinthe would actually become a palatable option should worse come to worse. Eh, if the end of the world is nigh, perhaps absinthe and cooking sherry will be highly cherished at such times of destitution.
Next comes securing anything outside that could possibly morph into 100 mph projectiles in hurricane conditions. Everything not attached to the ground by concrete or a root system is scrutinized with a highly suspicious eye. Innocent lawn ornaments are envisioned as decapitating missiles, if (heaven forbid) we were to have to evacuate mid-storm. Beach picnic tables and chairs are hauled inside and evening cocktails will now have to be with rumps in the sand, because I CANNOT leave storm prep to the last minute. Every piece of wood or plank (and there are A LOT of these hanging around since hubby’s favourite hobby is carpentry) has to be safely stashed. My beloved porch sea garden must be taken apart. Each shell, piece of sea glass, coral, driftwood, and sea fan, so meticulously and lovingly positioned, must go into the box and gym room, never to find the same perfect placement again. I even anticipate the epic rising water of a storm surge, and despite the fact that our bungalow is set high on concrete stilts, I have watched too many Hollywood versions of what can happen to those that do not think of everything in a storm. So in our bedroom loft, amongst all the candles and Zen, is a chain saw to chop thru the ceiling, just in case.
Last is thinking of Everything possibly needed for the safety of our beloved pets. Emotional weigh in must be made on how much attachment I actually have for Quanah Parker, the rooster that, on a daily basis, tries to impale me with his spurs. Hum. Well, I still love him and the rest of the feathered knuckleheads. So that means sheets have to go over all the boats and jet skis in the garage, which will become their storm shelter for who knows how long. I cannot cover everything, so I just pray that chicken poo does not have the same ability to become one with a trailer wheel fender as it seems to do with the wooden roosts in the chicken house. I then have a serious debate with myself over the feasibility of capturing Rex the curly tail lizard that lives in my sea garden… would the stress kill him or will high water, especially since I have just now stripped him of his comfy home? Does he have an innate ability in his ancient reptilian brain to figure how to survive a hurricane? I should get some sand and put some holes in the tupperware just in case. The dilemma of only one doggie life jacket, and having three dogs and two rescued puppies sends me into a wretched guilt trip of disaster imagined. Who gets the life jacket? Who gets to swim for it? Pups are too small to swim! Can I successfully float a cooler full of pups across a raging sea if I had to?? All of these images drag through my tortured mind… time for wine and the two o’clock storm update.
So now the storm is going to miss us. Though my heart goes out to those now placed in it’s revised route, I am beyond relieved that we are no longer in its path of destruction. More wine to celebrate as my husband mutters and grumbles that he cannot find a damn thing because his OCD wife has stashed everything movable somewhere and due to the aforementioned wine and memory loss, is not completely sure of the location of any of it anymore…