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A View from the Front Porch: Stormy Weather

By Remy Benoit


The live oak you are looking at is in my front yard. It is just beginning a slow dance with the winds that are coming from Ivan.

Storms excite us; they terrify us.

The pictures I saw of the Gulf today fall into the latter category.

It is not definite yet where Ivan will make landfall; but make landfall he will. Keep in mind that whatever Ivan brings in destruction, "he" will never be aware that he was, nor of what he did. We are both aware that we are, and should be aware of the consequences of our actions. Just something to think about during stormy weather.
Live oak

Today as we wait to learn exactly where Ivan will go, memories come back to me of a Nor'Easter of several years ago when I walked the island in water up to my waist watching the division of land and water disappear. Join me for a selection from Island Quilts in which I expressed what I felt during that walk.
From Island Quilts by Remy Benoit.
The storm had been raging for over seven hours now.It came to me in the quiet of the room that I needed some time to digest all that I had heard that evening and mightjust enjoy a time for myself.How we can treasure the few quiet moments we find here and there if we let ourselves, instead of fluffing pillows, or straightening up coffee tables.If we let ourselves forget our obligations.
I decided these few moments would be mine, and quietly left the living room after arranging an afghan over Jordan.
Going into the front hall, I put on my slicker and facing head on the force of the storm, I opened the door and went out.
The light from the few road lamps swayed in the wind, seeming to know if they stood rigid in the face of the storm they would break.Their glow just barely illuminated a world where the division of land and water had disappeared.The road way was now a tidal path covered by at least a foot of water.As I stood allowing my vision to adapt to the sparse light, the water lapped up to the third step of the stairway I stood on as the tide moved in and out.
I became fully aware of the meaning of the word island, for the land under my feet was now secured by nothing but the pilings that supported the house;the house that I now understood existed at the whim of the land and water.
Inside the house there was light and warmth, the very fabric of the frail human cocoon of security; the pilings over which we build our lives.The wind gusted, pulled at my coat, bit into my hands clinging to the rail to keep from being blown over;it pulled at the seventy percent of me that was water.
It screamed its primitive force.
It screamed inside my bones, demanding that I acknowledge its being, its unreasoning will.
Its sheer force was dreadful, venerable, in the primal blood coursing through me, and yet, yet not alien.
Somehow I felt a basic communication with it.
It was chaos, raw force, but not cruel, for cruelty comes from the heart and brain of man.
This force had no motive for good or evil.
It simply was an unbridled force of tremendous strength.
It did not plan its path, like Alexander or Sherman, nor its destructive capabilities.
It simply existed through a combination of atmospheric conditions.
We who had built these houses chose to put them here, not to challenge this elemental strength, but to witness it, draw strength from it, knowing, but not accepting at a conscious level, the tenuous position we had put ourselves in.
Just as we know that one day we will simply cease to be as we are, we go on dreaming, and building, and doing, for we have our own force, our own dreams.
In the winds I heard the empassioned cries of lovemaking; in the careening debris in the water I saw the chaos of creation itself, the male seed seeking the female egg.
I heard the woman screams of child birthing, the child screams of new life smeared in blood.
I heard ten thousand generations of force and convictions, and I understood them.
Looking up at our writing rooms, I heard Alex's inner cries of seeking his heart's way, and my soul's search for its own path.
I heard the two combining.
I understood chaos, and questioning, and our need for growth, and order, and achievement.
The wind died down a little, gentled my face, and welcomed me to a new me, a different woman than the one who had come through the door a little while ago, or to the island just four months ago.
I knew now that I would journey to the inner river of the writer, and that blood and life could no longer stand alone having touched thecenter of primal energy.
I felt renewed, awakened, and filled with conviction.
The winds of the storm had broken the web of my domesticated and civilized tethers,had set free the will in my center.
I was stirred by all those who had come before me down through the millennia, tied in a new way to everything.
I understood those on this island who had so lovingly guided me step by step into this vision.
But I knew too, in that moment of blinding vision, that this thread could easily be severed if I did not willfully, consciously cling to it, and share it.
I knew what my work was to be, and that it would be my joy.
I turned back into the house, shook off my slicker, shook the water from my face and hair.
All weariness,all inconsequentiality, all fears of the unknown, had been washed away in the ritual I had just celebrated.

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This item is part of WelcomeHomeSoldier.com: historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.


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