The Carolina's, North and South, hospitable people scattered from its beautiful beaches to its green hills and reaching up into their mountains. Hearty down home folk mixed in with the new breed that seeks the warmth around her hearths in winter and her beaches in summer. All huddled in a tight knit group of neighbors and friends waiting out yet another onslaught of an uninvited guest.
They come, from year to year, to interrupt the dance of Carolina Life. There winds riping through the elms and oaks leaving them tattered and torn. The wet ground allows this uninvited quest to tear them up by the roots and scatter their leaves in all directions. But the fate of the oaks and the elms is kind compared to the tribulations of our beloved pine trees. Their flexibility against the wind allowing them to keep purchase in the wet ground while their tops are snapped off and sent flying across the yards like cannon balls.
These uninvited guests come with names now unlike there predecessors who were titled by year and generic name. 1667--The Year Of The Hurricane, The Great Gust of 1724, George Washington's Hurricane of 1788, Great Coastal Hurricane of 1806, Sea Islands Hurricane of 1893. They all came uninvited to spread their wanton dance across our Beloved Carolina's.
Then some uninformed person gave names to these monsters that wander into our homes unwanted and uninvited. Hurricane Barbara 1953, Hurricane Carol 1954, Hurricane Edna 1954, Hurricane Hazel 1954, Hurricane Connie 1955. On and on they went giving name to things that needed no names. As if giving them a name would personalize them, make them more human or someone you would actually invite in for tea.
These usurpers of our mild weather grabbed their names and kept on coming year after year after year. How many of our fellow Carolinians arrived back in Charleston, after Hurricane Hugo 1989, to find the bricks peeled off their homes and piled haphazardly along the ground.
In 1996, when Hurricanes Bertha and Fran, tore through the Carolina's in close secession, we all ducked our heads, boarded our windows, watched the water rise and trees fall around us. The scene outside my home looked like a battle scene where hundreds of arrows were stuck in the ground having missed their intended targets. My arrows were tree branches stuck in the ground at every imaginable angle.
Baby squirrels strewn about the yard, alive but with no mother in site. No electricity for days. Water deep enough that the children could canoe on the streets from house to house.
Then they rested for awhile. They did not bother us. Others were holding dances for girls with names like Katrina, Gail and Wilma. Even the men started to come uninvited to some areas; Stan, Alex and Dennis.
Tonight we sit with another uninvited quest. IRENE! She is pounding our beaches and mangling our trees. She has sent us into shelters to wait her out. We are sitting in our homes listening to our roof shingles fly off like rockets as water leaks into our homes from the places our shingles have been abducted. Mail boxes are down, chairs toppled over, trees lay across roads and our children cower in their beds unable to sleep.
Irene will leave us some time tomorrow. An amazing thing happens after one of these uninvited guests is finally sent packing. The sun comes out, it is usually hot and humid, people are cleaning up every where and then helping neighbors with their cleanup. Stores and restaurants will open for business.
In short order we are back to normal. At least until the next uninvited guest, with the name that is supposed to personalize it, arrives and we do this dance all over again.
We Are Carolinians!!!