Observing the local change of seasons
People sometimes say they miss the change of seasons they knew up north. While admittedly the change is subtle in our area, it’s still there.
Walking along the beach I see signs of late summer. The royal terns are back, standing in groups always facing into the wind. Sometimes you see the rarer skimmer with them, as if trying to be inconspicuous and blend in.
Along with the birds of winter, seaweed is a sign of coming fall. Sometimes it has debris neatly wrapped up, as if the ocean is returning it to us, saying, “I believe this is your garbage.”
The vacant beach is another sign. It’s missing those big tents that have become the latest craze. On a busy summer day, the beach looks like a Bedouin camp in the dessert, only with much less clothing. But now, the Bedouins have broken camp and turned their attention to school, football and a faster pace of life.
In late summer, the ocean is warm from the long summer days, and this helps to bring about another staple of fall, tropical storms and hurricanes. The warm waters fuel the swirling winds and rain. The hurricane season officially starts in June, but it’s rarely serious until September.
During the passing of Hermine, who was probably angry about the “o” missing from her name, there was frequent mention that no hurricanes have hit the state in 11 years.
This is true, but hurricanes that pass by on their way north can have a big effect, depending on how far they are from the coast, and there were several in the active years until 2004. They could raise the surf to the top of the dunes and often caused evacuations as they teased the coast.
I worked a night shift during those years, and when hurricanes came close enough for beachside evacuations, I would sleep in the building that night. I remember walking outside to see palm trees flipping back and forth like sea oats.
But the day after a hurricane passes by is the most beautiful day you can imagine. I don’t know if it’s because all of the moisture has been vacuumed from the atmosphere or if it’s just the relief that the wind and rain have finally stopped.
Charley was a memorable hurricane in 2004 that came over Volusia County from the west. After cable TV went out, we listened to battery-radio reports of the storm getting closer and closer. Eventually, the radio went out (the tower must have been damaged) and we heard the wind and rain get louder until it seemed to be on top of us. We then listened as it slowly departed, growing faint as it headed out to sea.
Afterward, my mother, who stayed with us for the storm, pointed out several times that we sat in a Florida room (with two sides nothing but windows) as the hurricane went over, and that was probably not the best decision.
Things have definitely quieted down since the big hurricane year of 2004. Same say we’re in the beginning of a cycle of quiet hurricane seasons, but I wouldn’t break up the storm shutters into firewood just yet.
I’ve heard it said that being in a house with a hurricane outside sounds like a gigantic, wild animal is trying to tear your house apart. I have not experienced anything that severe, but if a big windy animal ever does go over, I’m getting outside the next day because I know it will be a beautiful fall day.