The beach that was a subtle ripple six hours ago, is churning with the life of an enormous hurricane, somewhere far off from here. Thankfully, it’s not coming straight for Panama City Beach, where I have a front row seat. Instead, it’s bearing left and headed straight for… somewhere west. The sky is suitably dark and the blue and green waves are throwing themselves on the beach, each one trying to outdo the last. There are people with cameras, pointing toward the western sky and their small children, sitting in the surf, feeling the water crash over them. One guy, of course, dove into the water, despite the warnings. And earlier, a couple, at least seventy years old, walked out onto the beach one with a bright pink and the other with a purple intertube float, held close to their sides as they pulled them overhead and waded into the water. They met each swell, holding hands, bobbing, as my children and I looked on. I wondered if they might be swept away, since the local weather said, “no swimming”, “rip-tides are life threatening”.
My mother told me to come home, back to Georgia, and I really almost did. The lady in the office said she wasn’t scared, and, “could you please bring in the deck furniture tonight, on account of the wind”. That only encouraged me to stay. I wouldn’t do anything dangerous, with my children in tow, but every news report says it’s going to New Orleans. My mom doesn’t care. She said Weather Channel said, “storm surge of 20-39 feet”. I reminded her, it’s headed in the other direction. We got disconnected. Did I mention that before we had children, my husband and I spent the night on Nantucket, during Hurricane Bob, back in 1991? I have a picture where the wind, at 100 mph, is supporting us both, as we lean forward. That was quite an adventure. My informal china pattern is Nantucket Basket, all because of Hurricane Bob. That is not to say that hurricanes aren’t dangerous, because they can be, of course. But there is such an awesome beauty about the wind and the water and the convection in the sky. It’s spectacular. So here we are. At the beach, under a tropical storm warning. So far it’s just big frothy green waves and a dark, dark sky. Now, I just walked back inside from the deck and the navy blue clouds have stretched themselves all across the sky, turning it a dull grey. No more clouds, only solid grey and the waves are licking the dunes.