Thursday, June 15, 2006


I'm not here, not really, not right now.

I know that sounds crazy in the virtual world of the Internet, but it's true.

As I write, I am nowhere near my home in Louisiana. I'm in South Carolina.

I suspect loyal readers usually imagine me sitting at a computer in my apartment in the Sliver by the River in the still-heavily damaged city of New Orleans. I'm sure they imagine me listening to WWOZ and drinking an Abita Restoration Ale while I wax poetic about the life and times of my family, my city, and my cats. And usually, that would be an accurate portrayal.

But for now, I'm at the Hilton Head Island Public Library, typing out a small entry in the blog of my life since Hurricane Katrina.

The weather, except for the rainy day Tropical Depression Alberto came over, has been fabulous. Days at the beach, feeling the wind of the Atlantic Ocean, imagining Africa just over the horizon...

But my thoughts remain in New Orleans. I was watching the waves this morning, small, gently breaking waves rolling in and running up the white sand beach, and I began to imagine larger, more powerful waves. I began to imagine 10-foot, 20-foot, 40-foot-tall waves of salt water, crashing and pounding and booming on the fragile shore, pulling shovelsful of sand loose with each successive attack. In military terms, successive assaults are called waves--an apt description to be sure.

I imagined my home state being attacked and our outer defenses being pulled apart by the beating ocean, indifferent Mother Nature ordering wave after wave against the ramparts we call barrier islands, and levees, and floodwalls.

The waves do not come in at regular intervals. No, that would be too simple. We could devise a defense too easily against such a threat (this is the engineer in me talking now). But the almost random interval and height of waves as they race up onto the sandy shore mean that no place is safe, no protection secure.

With a sigh, I am reminded again that it is not an easy thing to do. Living so close to nature, so intertwined with the oceans and rivers that give us life, is not at all a simple proposition. Those same forces and elements that power our lives can and will turn against us.

The philosopher Hendrix instructs us: "And so castles made of sand fall into the sea eventually."

My Precious Daughter has made friends with a girl from Kentucky. They dig and play in the surf and know nothing of the worry I have. They build their castles by dripping sand through their fingers. They know those castles will be gone tomorrow. They know that tonight, nature will send the sea up to wash all their work away.

But they build anyway, and enjoy them while they last.


Laurie said...

Beautiful reflective post. I hope you're enjoying your vacation and pushing those New Orleans thoughts to the very back of your mind. The New Orleans worries will no doubt be there when you return.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Laurie. It would be such a huge and tragic loss beyond all the other loss if the solace and peace that being near the ocean can bring was washed away for you by that one storm and the terrible flood that followed her. Beautiful post, Tim.