rain

Maybe having brushes with 3 tropical storms and a tropical system, but I cannot remember a year that I have seen so much just general rainfall.

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I do not watch news programs, nor do I subscribe to the local newspaper. So I have no idea what the cumulative rainfall is. It does not really matter. I live in a coastal town so mostly the ground is sand. We have trees so we have leaves and pine needles that fall, decompose and form a thin layer of topsoil. Subdivisions and developments truck in soil to make lawns, landscape crews mulch at least once a year. So not actually on the beachfront there is soil. Not rich, it’s sandy, but soil.

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Still, the rain drains and soaks into the ground within an hour. Not much standing water so thankfully some areas have less mosquitoes. But the area where my neighborhood is was once a watershed.

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Since we are also within 10 miles of the Cape Fear river everything from here drains there.

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I have way overplanted my backyard. In maybe 20 x 80 feet I have three fig trees, two Althea, two hydrangea, a gardenia, two (baby) paw paw trees, a Daphne, beautyberry bush, pussywillows, tansy, 3 lemongrass, asiatic lilies, penstemon, wisteria, passiflora, angel trumpet, old man’s beard, butterfly weed, butterfly bush, iris, daylilies, Black-eyed Susan, echinacea, mint, rosemary, iron weed, elderberry, star anise, Carolina allspice, Vitex, clethra, daisies, firecracker flower and invasive monarda. It’s really hard to walk around back there. I have a few pots with herbs, tomato plants and some okra.

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I have seen two rainbows this week. One a few days ago and one this morning. Because they are a promise, seeing them always makes me cry which is strange. Gratitude I guess. Relief maybe.

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Because it is July, and the rain, most plants are loaded with blooms, and bees and butterflies. I have often wondered where do they go when it rains.

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Wherever it is, they always reappear when the sun comes out and the flowers dry. And the spiders. Especially the ones on the water spout.

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disconnect

So last March I made plans to visit my favorite place in the mountains and returned home earlier today from a 4-day weekend.

It rained.

No, strike that, it poured.

Interstate driving for me is pretty relaxing. For the most part. But this trip? First I made a stop in Charlotte, NC. In a year they have made it nearly impossible to get in or out. There is construction on the east side for a new toll road. Leaving from the north there are mammoth overpasses being built at the conjunction of two interstates and the highway itself is being widened from 6 to what looks like 10 lanes. I lived in Miami and the interstates weren’t that wide. They were parking lots all the time.

Seven hours of driving in a downpour is trouble enough but in mountains it’s a real challenge. People had stopped at underpasses, on the emergency shoulders. Flashing hazard lights everywhere. So I stopped for gas and waited a few minutes till it let up, then set out to go over the mountain.

The Cove in Asheville, a retreat and training center, is itself built on a mountain. Two guest inns, a chapel, cottages for conference leaders, the training center lodge and hiking trails all over the mountain.

My conference– “How to be right without being insufferable”, dealt a good bit with truth. Not agenda-driven truths, Bible truth. The truth so many either have forgotten, chosen to ignore or just don’t believe it applies to them. He was pretty circumspect about everything, assuming most of us were at least open to the Bible being the basis of what is true, and God being a loving but just God, merciful when we ask Him to forgive us, help us, or just listen to us. So after roughly 6 hours of sessions and a few Bible references I got the gist, I think: when we speak to others who may disagree, be loving. See their point of view. Understand where they are coming from. But don’t ever compromise the truth.

Well, that’s a whole other ball of wax. He did not begin to get into psychology, just tried to help us understand never to dodge a question on the truth. Never be afraid to speak up for what is true. And always convey what we speak in love.

So I disconnected one afternoon when (finally!) the sun shone. No sessions were scheduled. After a bite of lunch I raced down the mountain to my room for a change of clothes and sneakers and went up the mountain. IMG_0234.JPG

I forgot how steep it was. Or how high. Gulping in huge breaths of air I stopped now and then at a switchback to steady my heart rate. And looked at the untouched beauty. There are bears, and at this time of year their young are about 7 or 8 months old. Very small, cute and very protected so whenever I heard a crashing sound I moved a little faster. Our black bears are very shy and will scare off if you yell, sing or clap your hands at them but I’d not like to see how that works.

It is beautiful at the mountaintop. As I said to others I met on my way down it is worth the effort. I assured them they were well past the steep parts of the climb (if they were), and told those  who were not that they could make it. At one point on my way up I heard *crunch*crunch*crunch*crunch* behind me and turned to see a young man who is in the military actually running, as if he were going down, not up! I’d never have survived basic training had I enlisted.

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This was the first year I have enjoyed a conference here. Most years I go for a personal retreat, which it is and it is wonderful. But I met so many good people, there were about 300 from 25 states, I am glad I was brave.

And no amount of walking is helping my sore leg muscles!

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blessings

So a little over a week ago the weather people told us the U.S. jet stream dipped well into the southeast. This was a good thing, (for here) right? Everything above it was cooler, below it is unimaginably hot.

No one has any idea how long this will be.

Ok, so yes, it’s good (for here) but with this comes rain. Meteorologists can explain why. All I know is we have basically had solid rain for going on 8 days now. With thunder mostly.

The thing about that is rescue dog Lulu won’t eat when it thunders. She turns around in circles by the back porch door, crying until I let her out. But she won’t go outside when it is raining. Well, that’s smart. And I do have these herbal chews thatIMG_0170.JPG are supposed to relax Lulu. They have lavender, chamomile and colostrum. They only help when she collapses in exhaustion from stressing over the rain storms and sleeps for about 2 hours.

2105551020-bfcf7f5f049178968f2aab6a0d35bdf1.jpgBut then rain is a blessing. Obviously without it nothing grows. No gardens, agriculture. No irrigation, no water.  Just because something appears inconvenient or is612294559-aa1bfc74e56dcb5f6d475ea40290989a.jpg not to my liking does not mean it is wrong. I learned long ago my perspective is a tiny fragment of a much bigger picture and the amount of control I have over this picture is not as significant as I sometimes may think. Like the butterfly effect. Generally something that ripples out far beyond anything I will ever see and will have an effect that is far removed from the initial thought or motion.

And many blessings are in the eye of the beholder. In food, in relationships, in acts of nature, in politics. I have learned to, if not be thankful personally then to thank God for whatever purpose He intends for whatever or whomever is the object of the moment. Whether I like it or not.

And I can be like Lily, reluctant to step out into the life that is happening because it is not to my expectation or liking, yet as the popular phrase goes, “it is what it is,” and my participation or lack of will not necessarily change things. It might, though. But avoiding it orIMG_0169.JPG hiding from it will accomplish nothing because Life goes on whether or not I choose to participate.

So, blessings.  Like beauty. Definitely in the eye of the beholder. Moreso if the beholder has wisdom.1599110096-Bible-Passages-Scriptures-Quotes-and-Verses-about-Blessings-pictures-and-images-Blessing-Verse.jpg

 

 

Weather

It’s always fascinated me, weather. I love watching a storm, darkening clouds, oddly colored sky, brilliant flashes and rumbles far away. For a while I used to think I could predict weather from clouds. If I saw mare’s tails (cirrus clouds) I knew it would rain within 2-3 days and it usually did. “Ring around the moon, rain before noon” sometimes worked, not always. Killing a spider is believed to bring rain, and most everyone knows the biblical “red sky at night, sailor’s delight… red sky at morning, sailor take warning” (Matthew 16:2-4).

But hurricanes? Growing up in the south I’ve encountered them but usually on the tail end at a beach vacation. Plenty of rain, gusty wind and stinging sand. Then Hurricane Hugo in September 1989,  a category 5 when it hit Charleston, SC then a 2 or 3 when it hit where my son and I lived, Charlotte, NC. Knocked a pine tree on the roof of my car. My son came and woke me (yes, I slept through it up till then) telling me he was blind. I could not understand this until I heard the screaming wind outside and things cracking (said pine tree). The only light you could see was the occasional flash of lightning silhouetting trees and buildings. I walked outside (yes, half asleep without thinking) to listen to the car radio since clearly there was going to be no television (no idea at that time it would not be for two and a half weeks) to try and get some weather. Just music, but I did notice how I had suddenly become much taller until I realized it was actually my car roof, stove in by the pine tree. I went back to the house, my son was crying his eyes out at the door. Evidently it frightened him that I would walk out into such a maelstrom. At least by now he realized he’d not lost his eyesight.

Then I moved to north Florida in 2003. All summer long people talked about how the hurricanes, if they happened, weren’t bad until August or September. We had none of any consequence that year but 2004? I can recall a few, one that kept dropping tornadoes a few blocks from the library where I worked, and another that sat over the entire state of Florida for what seemed like weeks, soaking us with feet of water.

The next year, 2005 I moved to Miami. There were more storms, we seemed to be constantly throwing those hurricane shutters up and taking them down, and of course Katrina and Rita. The worst for me was not so much the coming storm but, though we were under mandatory evacuation being east of I-95 and US 1 I would not leave because I knew what those evacuations are like, I’d rather just stay in my home than be stuck on the highway at the worst of the storm, and shelters did not permit pets at all at that time. No way was I going to leave and not keep my doggies safe. We lost electricity from Rita for about 6 days. Not bad, but in south Florida the humidity is relentless and you really do miss air conditioning when you don’t have any.

So I moved again to a coastal town in North Carolina. This time not for work but retirement. Last year we had a couple of tropical storms, no hurricanes that bothered us. So far this year looked to be about the same.

Until now.

So hurricane Matthew briefly a category 5 (the worst measured storm), now a 4, meandering west over the Caribbean, is a very ambitious storm about to make a sharp right north to mow down Hispaniola, Jamaica, Cuba, the Bahamas all by Tuesday. The track according to the national hurricane center so far shows it on a bee-line course for the little part of coastal NC where I live.

This does not necessarily have to be where it goes. A little high-pressure system could spin it right back out over the Atlantic, where its cousins Karl and Lisa just flew off to. But right now we are sitting under much more rain and humidity, a low pressure that has socked itself in for several days. As if TS Julia and her rains for 3 weeks weren’t enough for us. Still, anything can happen with weather. As they say, don’t like the weather here? Wait a minute.

Let’s hope.

Floods

So we didn’t really have one, not right where I am anyway. But the Cape Fear River as of two days ago was still at 2-1/2 feet above flood level. And this was not a result of Hurricane Joaquin either which was too far east of us to make any impact. This was predicted before that storm.

But it didn’t stop raining. For 4 days.

I have never seen it rain so much, continually. I don’t know what a monsoon is like but this probably came pretty close only it isn’t spring when everything is just waiting for those rains to come so they can go on and bloom. It wasn’t consistent, either. While we got over 14 inches of rain points south suffered much worse. In Charleston some said the rain was worse than Hurricane Hugo in 1989 (a category 3 storm when it hit there). Mid-state South Carolina there were 2 dams that failed and flooded huge areas.

Nature will always reclaim itself. We lose things. Some people did not survive this because they decided to drive around to see what damage was done. It’s hard to see how deep flood water is or how fast it’s moving.

My brother called during all this.

“Have you lost power?” -no-
“Are you prepared?” -what, sandbags??- >laughter< "No, groceries" -yes-
"Do you have an evacuation route?" -I did but they closed 10 miles of the interstate for flooding, and then Ocean Boulevard, the only ways out-

So we sat and waited. My husky-mix rescue Lily and I. At one hiatus we ventured out a short way to a nearby park. Closed.

So we hunkered down. And waited. Finally, the sun shone but we are still waiting for the ground to dry out.

Wish I'd had a few rain barrels.

Weather

I so enjoyed an early Mother’s Day visit from my son. He’s completely booked with his dad’s family’s goings-on and work travel, so I am glad I had a glimpse of him amidst his active life. And his visit was blessed with pristine spring weather– no humidity, bright sunshine, cool breezes.

I should have known.

So hurricane season “officially” begins in the summer, June 1. Instead of following the rules, Mother Nature decides, 4 days after my son’s departure, to sling a messy tropical storm at us. And landfall is right here, the coastline where I live. We began seeing the first rain bands yesterday, more today, much more grey, humidity that soaks your socks inside your shoes and some pretty hefty winds. Though the center of the storm is not expected to come in till tomorrow morning the storm introduces itself to us in its wet and windy chaos long before.

This does not interfere with my rescue dog Lily’s morning constitution. We still go to the park, still ran our 2 + miles around the lake. We then drove to the beach through off-on spitting/deluging rains, gusty winds to see what the surf looked like.

Pretty wild. Nobody in the 70 degree water, either surfing or swimming. I learned that rip currents happen because the winds are pushing the water currents in all directions so though the waves crash like normal on shore underneath them all hell is breaking loose. Not somewhere anyone wants to be. The rescue vehicles patrolled the beaches ensuring nobody was dumb enough to try to outdo nature, which they were not.

But the surf. Wispy froth flying away from waves that crested maybe 30-40 yards offshore. Six-8 foot high, the waves crashed in arcing foam scouring the shoreline of any shells or sea life. My son and I had marveled at the number of periwinkles (tiny mollusks, a delicacy for gulls and other shore birds) washed up with each gentle wave as we ambled along the shoreline.

No periwinkles today.

And after a few days when the storm has turned back to the northeast and begun again in earnest to seek out the warm gulfstream waters the sun will shine, the winds and waves will calm.