As we in south Texas await the gentle spanking of Tropical Storm Claudette (which by the time you read this may have become Hurricane Claudette), I’m taken back in time to when I lived through several hurricanes. I was 10 at the time, but I remember the experiences vividly. At that age I wasn’t concerned with house or personal safety like my parents were…I was more enthralled with witnessing Mother Nature at her finest fury.
My dad was stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and during that hurricane season many decades ago we sheltered through several hurricanes that waltzed across the navy base there at Guantanamo. One particular hurricane, Flora I think, passed her eye over the base. I can remember the sensations, sights, and smells associated with that remarkable event. We had sheltered for the storm in my dad’s Chief Petty Officer’s quarters, which was hurricane proof. When the eye passed over, we all went outside and I cannot precisely describe the eeriness that standing in the eye of a hurricane brings…you who have done this know what I mean. Perhaps it’s merely the dramatic contrast between the violent wind and rain of the storm that suddenly ceases, leaving you with ringing eyes and a sense that the outside world is frozen solid, nothing moving. I don’t know if all hurricane eyes look like Flora’s did, but the area was bathed in a soft pink glow with clear sky above us.
The respite lasted no more than 15 minutes, and ended as dramatically as it began with the trailing edge of the eye and all its fury restarting marching towards us, frantically whipping every palm tree in its way. We scurried inside and went back to our board games and distractions (hey, this was pre-computer, pre-GameBoy era).
At the start of every hurricane season I recall those times and think about how remarkable they were (and revisit my amazement that I remember them so well). And even though I’ve since been through several hurricanes as an adult (with quite a different level of concern and attention!), I do miss those times when all I focused on was how marvelous and impressive Mother Nature could be when she bared her fury.