It's brewing up a rainy day here in Lower Alabama, low clouds overhead and the wind a-blowing. Whereas I'm not usually one to jabber about the weather, I would agree that some rain would be welcome, and it's in the forecast. We've been suffering drought conditions since Katrina poured a few buckets our way about a year ago.
The big-ass Weather Bureau, the one with a Hurricane Center, has now downgraded this season. Says it won't be as bad a one as last year. Nowadays when people talk about hurricanes it's with panic in their hearts, not like in the dark ages when I was growing up and they were just an unpredictable part of summer life. We kids loved them. They didn't have names, or even categories, and you never knew when one was coming until it was too late. None of this evacuation stuff. Windows were not boarded up. You just got your candles and flashlights ready and prepared for an adventure.
Supposedly in ought-nine there had been one that flooded Fairhope. I can't imagine how that could happen, but I didn't doubt the stories of little kids hiding up in the treetops until their parent swam to save them. Fairhope is high on a bluff, and, with Katrina last year there was water all the way up the bluff -- but still not reaching the town -- which pulled up the piers and washed away even the concrete Municipal Pier. At the storm's end I walked to the bluff park where the statue of Marietta Johnson stands, and, with half a dozen other citizens, peered over the edge to see the tops of pines peeking out of the flooded area down in the beach park. "Can you imagine this?" one man said, and I knew he was new to the area, because I had imagined such ever since I was a little girl. The end of the hurricane was what we enjoyed, when our parents let us out, and we went exploring the beaches to see what piers had been washed away and what debris and driftwood had been deposited where.
This is not to minimize the seriousness of the recent hurricanes. After Frederick scored a direct hit on this area in 1979, and after so many new houses went up so near the beaches, the equation has been changed. Add a little media-panic, induced by 24-hour news with guys in raincoats flying to stand in the storms and tell us how scared they are, and it's no wonder the fear of hurricanes has become a major new industry. Many of my wonderful new friends moved away because they dared not live through another hurricane, even though some of them suffered more from the horror of driving at a snail's pace to get to safety 200 miles away, in bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-65, only to arrive at a cheesy motel that was full, and finally to land somewhere between here and Atlanta and experience more of the hurricane than we did in Fairhope.
I don't relish another hurricane. I join those who hope we don't get hit at all this season. But I am looking forward to a nice rainy day, which today or tomorrow just might be. We need the water, we need the excessive humidity, and we need a slight drop in temperature. And I have no doubt all these things will happen if we can wait long enough.