Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire. - Wendell Berry
Here comes another natural disaster to assist us in the releasing of our possessions. I believe we call her Irene, and she’s making her way up the east coast. While the winds have lost some of their power, it’s the flooding that we’ve been warned will do the most harm. People have been ordered to evacuate but, of course, not all who were encouraged to flee are going.
Honestly, I don’t get it. Don’t you own a television or see a newspaper every once in a while? Don’t you remember the hurricanes, tornadoes, wild fires, etc. who’ve come before this? Doesn’t Mother Nature always comes out on top? The Today Show’s Al Roker spoke with the surfer who decided it was too intense for her but whose friends were still kicking it up in the background. Another reporter interviews a woman who doesn’t “think it’s going to be that bad,” and has prepared by, “hoping for the best.” Good luck with that.
All the talk takes me back to May of last year when it rained here, hard and fast, for two days and flooded damn near everything. People died. Entire neighborhoods were under water. The symphony hall and its neighbors, all right in the middle of downtown Nashville, were conquered with ease. It was shocking to see in real life what I’d watched only on television before. We were lucky at home. So, we loaded the offspring, some cleaning supplies, and a few tools into the car, and took off in search of some way to be useful.
We stopped at one heavily impacted house to see if we could help, and they sent us down the street to check on a single mother who’d lost everything. Luckily, a crew of eager sorority sisters had already come, rocked it, and moved on. All that remained, the owner and her children had to do on their own.
The process of picking up every single item you own to make a decision about its fate is daunting but at some point, that is what has to be done. She sent us down the street to another woman whose house and barn had also been inundated with flood water. She said, “While they were trying to escape, her husband had a heart attack and he’s in the hospital. She doesn’t have any family here and I think she probably needs you… even more than me.”