Saturday, January 07, 2006

Snowy Defense, and Hugo.

Well, J.T. Snow has joined the club, and his defense and left-handed bat will fit right in. As others have said in Sox blogland, I hope Youk will not lose much playing time because of this, but having a sure handed glove, a left handed one at that, will help out on the right side of the infield.
Thinking snow somehow made a connection in my mind, a very unpleasant one. Hurricane Hugo, a 1989 entity. The hurricane, born off Western Africa, as are the majority of our hurricanes, began its westward trek across the Atlantic, with the Carribean squarely in its sights. There is a small island 80 miles east of Puerto Rico, St. Croix, one of three islands that comprise the United States Virgin Islands. St. Croix has a forever piece of my heart because my parents owned a house there from 1974 right up to September 1989. Yes, 1989, a year when the Weather Channel was a new addition to cable TV. As we sat in Connecticut, we watched this innocuous storm grow in strength on its westward trek, never changing north or south. It had St. Croix painted in the bulls eye. In the days before it became an inescapable certainty to hit the island, we were pleading to the big guy upstairs, the ultimate weathermaker, to let this monster veer north, south or east, ANYWHERE other than where it was headed. To no avail.
St. Croix is 26 miles long and, at its widest, 10 miles north to south. Our house was on the eastern tip, where the island is only, as the crow flies, less than half a mile from its north shore to its south shore. In fact, our front yard had a remarkable view of the ocean on the northern side, and just as magnificent a view of the southern shore and sea to the south. We were on a hill, exposed to any storm system coming from the east. And Hugo was coming.
Before it blew away, the wind gauge at Farleigh Dickenson University, St. Croix campus, recorded 203 MPH. Our house never had a chance, exposed as it was. We were lucky our family was at home in Connecticut at the time, or tragedy would have been the result. But the house was torn asunder as if it was made of cardboard. After the storm and its eye crossed the entire island, and slowly at that, with a forward speed of less than 6 MPH, we had no word from our friends on island, no peep of what was happening on the television networks, silence that was not golden. Only when the U.S. National guard was called in to help prevent looting did the incredible destruction become apparant.
I have yet to return to that beautiful plot of land that was our vacation home for oh so many years. But the memories of paradise on Earth will never leave me. And I will return. If only to stand and enjoy the view of the turquoise waters to the north and the south, to the flagpole that my Dad, now gone, put up in the front yard next to his beautiful orchids. And to the garden, where my Mom, who doesn't remember much other than my name and how to flash her still dazzling smile, made magic grow with her hands. So much of my life, sadness AND euphoria, happened there. And I will never forget.
Thanks for being here my friends. I'll be back tomorrow, if not sooner, as I now imagine the warm tradewinds blowing gently through the trees and vegetation, calming the soul on this 17 degree day morning. I want to go back.


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