Hermine is now a hurricane, the first to make a Florida landfall in years. She took a little jog to the west yesterday, which put us in her sights, but she turned away again, just a flutter of wind and a few scuttling clouds.
For the past hour, we’ve had buckets of rain, mostly teasers; the first rain lasted maybe 30 seconds. The next, maybe five minutes. The next one, ten. She is playing with us, this one.
It’s Wednesday and two nameless storms are churning off the coast. Have been, for days.
If you want to be technical about it, these systems have identities: Tropical Depression 8 and Tropical Depression 9.
I cannot recall the last time that two storms have battled for so long to be named.
The first one to reach sustained winds of 34 knots (39 miles per hour) will be named Hermine.
The one I’m keeping an eye on is Tropical Depression 9, gathering strength in the Gulf of Mexico, parked south of my keyboard. Whether she becomes Hermine or he becomes Ian, time (and speed) will tell.
The name on the stern was was Layover. But to Robert, she was always the Lotus.
His path out of the muck and the mire.
She was a 40-foot cutter-rig with a center cockpit, built in 1981 by Endeavour Yachts. And she was a mess. Neglected. Dirty.
The bimini (the canvas cover over the cockpit) hung in rags.The hatches leaked, the heads didn’t flush. The only thing that worked in the galley was the overhead light. There was a leak in the fuel line. And the engine needed work.
But the seller was motivated and the price was right. The boat was inspected in July. On August 2, 2004, Robert took possession of the boat and had her moved to another location where she would undergo extensive repairs.
Over the next several weeks, the Lotus had her engine overhauled, her hatches and heads replaced, and a new stove installed. And new canvas all around: new sheets, main sail, and cover for the cockpit. Robert had stainless-steel davits built over the stern to hold the new dinghy.
And then she is moved to Bahia Mar, to prepare for the journey home.
The first mother was mine. She never let salt spill in her presence without throwing some over her shoulder. And we had to follow suit, or something terrible would happen. Superstitions were as powerful to her as the Catholic Church. Maybe more so.
Scoff if you will, but there is something close to magic in the ritual of superstition. At least there is for me. I no longer feel compelled to throw salt over my shoulder, but I understand the impulse. And I know – without knowing why – that something is out there …
Which brings me to the second mother: Mother Nature, in the form of Tropical Depression Nine, recently known as Invest 99L, which spent a full week in the Caribbean before finally ambling into the Gulf of Mexico and taking on enough of a disturbance to earn itself a number. Not yet a name. Or at least not as I type this.
This part of the Gulf – the Emerald Coast – hasn’t had a hurricane since June 10, 2015, when Dennis came ashore. Even if this weather system in the Gulf comes our way, it probably won’t be much more than rain and a few good thunderstorms. Maybe.
But just to be safe, I’ll hold off on the rest of the story for now. Because I detect a hint of salt in the air….
Day One of Developing Your Eye: I was going to go house hunting today. Not to buy, but to capture with my camera my idea of home. Which is, honestly, lacerated, and deserves a post of its own. But first, I wanted to stop by an estate sale. On my way there, I came across this splendid riot of a garden, next door to the estate sale. It was two lots wide and invisibly deep. The house itself must have been small, to judge from the neighborhood, mostly prewar (around here, that means 1940’s). This tiny little ceramic birdhouse is even smaller. Doubtful a single egg has been nested, nor one bird taken shelter here. But stories are born in these places. If not the dwelling, then the shadows that surround it, the structure that supports it, and the very air of the place, dreaming on a summer afternoon…
Found some photos that a friend had taken during Hurricane Ivan, which came through this area, but not a direct hit. And also, I was on Okaloosa Island yesterday, briefly, so actually got out of the car, walked down to the water, stuck my toes in the Gulf, and took a few photos. Mostly of my dashboard, for some reason. (I have a new phone, still working out the kinks). But also the Gulf of Mexico.
But first… Ivan.
And now… yesterday at the beach. Sunday afternoon. Crowd control seems to be working!