Motes Orchids has closed for the summer but we're not going anywhere. We have orchids -a lot of them. Too many to be left with a neighbor. And hurricane season has been starting earlier each year.
So Martin scheduled his last speaking engagement out of state for the middle of June with the Tulsa Orchid Society. A great time was had by all and then as usual we took off in a rental car for a few days and discovered how wonderfully friendly Oklahomans are, and so worried for us, from Miami.
"Hurricanes!" The waitress in the diner in a little town had gasped, "I'd be so scared!" And she'd just been telling us about the couple of tornadoes that had hit just the last week, two roads over. No big deal. This lady had the big trees fall in her yard and then two days later-on the Thursday- another tornado came through and that was when the other tree hit the house.
We are used to hurricanes being plannned for, like finding a cheap fare on Orbitz. You tune in with the first announcement, a slight dust cloud forming off the coast of Africa. If you're really eager, you look for your hurricane chart conveniently provided by the local Walgreens and while you're still hunting round the TV for where you put it, those folk in Oklahoma, if they had managed to hear a tornado warning at that same time, would already have raced for the basement, clung to a tree, or crawled into a ditch.
And while we are being shown charts of the Caribbean and kept informed on the status of this cloud of dust far off in the Atlantic, surprised once more by how close Trinidad is to Venezuela, and what a long trip your neighbors from Trinidad have to take each time, and wow how close Cuba really is, so no wonder ...a day or two goes by. Meanwhile, often before your tropical depression even becomes a storm, let alone a future hurricane with a name, the poor people in tornado alley have already salvaged their remaining possessions and hopefully found the cat and are being looked after by the Red Cross.
If the tropical storm finally makes it to hurricane strength- seventy miles an hour - then, unlike us with our Orbitz travel plans, the itinerary can change. And every one can join in and play. OK, maybe headed straight over Cuba - once more, poor Cuba - but lucky for us. Or straight past and into the Gulf- Watch out Mexico! No, wait, maybe turning north, maybe us, this time -South Florida. Time to go for the baked beans, the batteries and the Chlorox! No, no -Now they're saying more east and north. Oh, Oh, North Carolina, your turn again!
Floridians can spend a whole night at a bar discussing this. Indeed, this can all go on for days. It's all very gentlemanly and leisurely. Does anyone ever have time even to name a tornado?
Maybe we just all get hardened to whatever happens in our own state. Most Californians I've met accept earthquakes but like the sturdy Oklahomans make faces over hurricanes. I hate the idea of earthquakes. Unless you live near a zoo and hear all the animals making a commotion- how do you know? And all my favorite plates are just propped up on my shelves. They get knocked off just by lizards. Californians must keep all their best stuff in a box.
Whenever there's an earthquake there's always a mellow, cool Californian on TV standing stoically in front of the sliding grocery shelves, amid the cans and packets, or crunching cheerfully through their living room over their broken plates and glasses:"Yeah! The bed shook. I just woke up- hey just a small tremor! No big deal!"
But I'd be wailing at the camera: "No warning! All my lovely stuff from the Florida City Swap Meet! Gone! We were never told!"