So Long, Isaac

Well, we lived through another one.

For us, at least, the storm was minor, though I do understand there were some more serious isolated damage to property.

We were pretty lucky on the Rez. Power went off about six hours Wednesday and came back on without a burp.

The rest was cleanup. Ugh.

We all hate cleanup. I decided a long time ago that I would pick up and pile all the bigger stuff, but all those stupid little twigs and tips of water oak shoots would go under the lawnmower. It’s a lot easier to sharpen blades when it’s all done than bend over 500 times.

I got most of it done over the weekend, just a bit more going toward the bayouside to finish up this weekend. I’m praying for rain so I can get out of it.

All in all, we were fortunate compared to many, many others.

I kept asking people — virtually anybody I ran into — in the days before the storm and during, as well as after, “Why do we live here, again?” I couldn’t for the life of me come up with a good reason, but chock that up to having to clean up almost two acres of property.

Granted, you can’t live anywhere where there isn’t some sort of natural disaster. Tornadoes, earthquakes, blizzards, avalanches, monsoons, stampeding lemmings, something. At least we get warnings ahead of time with hurricanes.

If I didn’t have so many water oaks in the yard I’d be better off. I do not think I picked a single pecan, live oak, sycamore or cedar branch, and if I did, it’s only because I didn’t notice it because it was covered by water oak droppings. Those trees are old and tall, beautiful, but they drop limbs, including those big “widowmakers” in a two-mile-per-hour breeze.

If Suzie and I ever get to live our dream of living in the mountains somewhere, I hope there are no water oaks.

I remember after Hurricane Andrew, my grandmother, then 89, was outside raking up the mess and burning it in the backyard.

A FEMA working passing by saw the smoke, slammed on the brakes, and backed up to pull in the driveway.

“Ma’am,” he said, “you can’t burn debris, you have to bring it to the road and get it picked up.”

Ma Faye leaned on her rake and looked the FEMA guy in the eye and said, “Now, listen, son. In the first place, this is an Indian reservation and you don’t have any authority here. In the second place, I’m 89 years old and I sure don’t take no sass from young’uns like you. So just get on back into your truck and go bother someone else, hear?”

That was the gist of it, anyway, I don’t recall the exact wording, because this was told to me secondhand. I do know the FEMA guy got back into his truck and was never seen around the Stouff spread again.

Ma Faye was nothing if not feisty.

About the same time, Dad was up on the roof of his house replacing a few sheets of tin that had blown off. It never even occurred to me to try to stop him. He was 68, and in better shape than I ever was or will be.

I think Andrew was the first storm we ever ran from. Scared my father, and that was a rare thing. I remember waking up in the middle of the night a day before Andrew made landfall here, and he was awake too, watching the television reports, and I could tell he was shaken. He loaded mom and Ma Faye up and headed for Ft. Worth. I ended up in Bossier City. Ran into a couple from Franklin in a convenience store there.

But when I was a kid, if there was a hurricane coming, my parents would put a mat down for me to sleep on next to their bed. I remember listening to the storms howl and rage outside, but I was never afraid. I was, after all, born in a hurricane, Hurricane Hilda. Sherman Alexie once said there are some children who are born of fire, and burn up everything they touch; some children are born of ash, and fall apart if you touch them. I was a child born of wind and rain.

So, so long, Isaac. Prayers go out to those suffering east of here. It’s a tenuous bargain we’ve made, living on the coast. Sometimes we don’t get the end of it we want.

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