Sorry I didn’t keep up with the blogging. I’ve been keeping busy cleaning, which is, as you know, what I do when I worry. The hurricane hit St Thomas (where I used to live) and it was even worse than I feared – it looks like the while island was scoured by a Brillo pad. There isn’t a leaf on a tree, mud and water have run into houses, roofs have been torn off, and palm trees have lost their fronds or been snapped in half. I remember living in St Thomas and getting hit by two hurricanes – one happened when we lived near Mountain Top, and the other when we were in Contant. The one that hit when we were in Contant passed directly over us, so that the wind blew one way, then there was the calm and blue sky of the eye of the cyclone, and then the wind hit from the other direction, smashing into our kitchen and emptying our cabinets.
The other hurricane dumped so much water on us, the streets were rivers. We splashed up and down the hill in water that was knee deep, watching our neighbors shoveling two feet of mud out of their houses. Cars parked on the hill had all been swept to the bottom, and the trees were broken and smashed. A few months later, we took a hike in the forest and saw where the water had dug huge channels in the mountainside. That was also the day we saw the huge orb spiders, whose webs spanned the ravine we were climbing. The spiders were black and yellow, and the size of dinner plates. Their webs were twenty to thirty feet across and the outer web silk was yellow, and as thick and strong as guitar string. (I plucked it, just to see. For some reason, those huge spiders scared me less than the smaller ones in out house!)
When I came to France,I thought I’d left hurricanes behind. But in December 1999, a huge storm struck us, waking us up at 5:30 am. I listened to the wind howling like a train outside the shutters and said to my husband, “it’s a hurricane!” (It wasn’t a hurricane, – hurricanes don’t happen in France – it was a wind storm called “Lothar” that swept over France and parts of Germany.) My husband didn’t believe me, but our sons ran into the room saying water was coming through the wall. In fact, it was coming through the shutters and the closed window. My husband opened the window and unlatched the shutters to look, and the wind nearly tore the shutter of his hands. It took three people to close it again. When the storm passed, we walked outside to desolation. Half our roof was gone, both chimneys smashed, the road was red from all the tiles that had flown off the roofs, and the trees that were still standing had lost their small branches and twigs, and we walked on a carpet of matchsticks that was five inches thick. One of our apple trees was upside down. The electricity was off for weeks, the roads, airports and trains were closed – it took three days for the highway to be cleared. I can’t imagine what it will be like in the Caribbean, where the destruction is ten times worse. Now, hurricane Irma is barreling towards Florida, and I hope it swerves off and into the Atlantic without hurting anyone. But if it absolutely must hit Florida – I hope it goes straight into Mar el Lago, and then veers out to sea.