L I T T O R A L

Quite Delightful Rather than Frightening

07/22/2010  by Arlo Haskell  Comment on this Post
 

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The 5 pm update on Tropical Depression Three shows the forecast models in agreement.

Among the little joys of life in the subtropics are the less-than-serious storm events the hurricane season can bring. Above, you see Tropical Depression Three, which may mature into Tropical Storm Bonnie as it enters the Florida Straits tomorrow. This means wind– maybe as much as 50 knots, but likely closer to 30– and at least a couple of inches of rain as the storm approaches, passes over, and leaves the Florida Keys tomorrow afternoon and night.

Here on the vulnerable and enduring Littoral, we keep Elizabeth Bishop’s early Key West poems with our survival gear. She knew how to ride out a storm:

It is marvellous to wake up together
At the same minute; marvellous to hear
The rain begin suddenly all over the roof,
To feel the air suddenly clear
As if electricity had passed through it
From a black mesh of wires in the sky.
All over the roof the rain hisses,
And below, the light falling of kisses.

An electrical storm is coming or moving away;
It is the prickling air that wakes us up.
If lightning struck the house now, it would run
From the four blue china balls on top
Down the roof and down the rods all around us,
And we imagine dreamily
How the whole house caught in a bird-cage of lightning
Would be quite delightful rather than frightening;

And from the same simplified point of view
Of night and lying flat on one’s back
All things might change equally easily,
Since always to warn us there must be these black
Electrical wires dangling. Without surprise
The world might change to something quite different,
As the air changes or the lightning comes without our blinking,
Change as our kisses are changing without our thinking.

Untitled Elizabeth Bishop poem from Edgar Allan Poe & The Juke-Box, edited by Alice Quinn, Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2006.

UPDATE: 7/23/2010 4:00 p.m.: What did become Tropical Storm Bonnie turned out to be even less than less-than-serious. As the poorly-organized and fast-moving system scurried across the Florida mainland, Key West saw an ordinary summer day: 80-something, breezy, sun, and clouds.

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