Blow, Wind, Blow...

Wild wind whips the palm trees

May I say the wind tossed the palm tree fronds around vigorously today?  She chopped up the Back Bay waters, frothed the tides to and fro, and chopped the surf on the Gulf with gusto.  The wind held all the cards today.  She didn’t blow herself wildly into a hurricane (it isn’t even hurricane season!) but she did dance upon the land and waters here on Fort Myers Beach.

Wind and hurricanes have shaped the land in these islands and bays for centuries.  It’s a fact.  If one chooses to live down here in the warm sunny swamplands, one witnesses storms of great intensity.  These “blows” contain the capacity to destroy and create, to completely change the views and vistas. 

I learned today about Hurricane Donna, which tore through the island in October, 1960, creating havoc.  In 1944, a wild spiralling hurricane struck, covering the entire island in water and destroying many buildings.  Every year thereafter for almost a decade, a hurricane roared through, including the vicious storm of ’47 that also washed over the entire island.  (or so sayeth the Island Sand Paper.)

Hurricanes shape and re-shape the landscape endlessly

Hurricanes shape and re-shape the landscape endlessly

Before the 1960’s this end of Fort Myers Beach was mostly sand and dense mangrove with a few scattered cottages.  Early residents probably would stand with mouth agape at the scenery these days.  Can’t you just see an old-timer pointing up at a condominium saying,  “What’s that?  What’s a condo?” 

Old wooden piers once jutted out into the Gulf of Mexico, but there’s only scattered remains of the posts nowadays.  I believe the following photo shoot features a cormorant or anhinga.  If you have a magnifying glass you can discern.  The Anhinga’s beak is pointed for spearing fish and the Cormorant’s beak is hooked for grasping its prey.  (or so sayeth Florida’s Fabulous Waterbirds book.)

Waterbird sitting on post of once-massive Santini Pier

Waterbird sitting on post of once-massive Santini Pier

Hurricane Charley came a visitin’ a few years ago.  2004, to be exact.  This one struck with 150 mph winds and created big-time damage in south western Florida.  The south end of the island (where we’re staying) fortunately enjoyed low tide when the storm hit.  However, the north end of the island featured high tide, and the waters careened across the landscape.

When the tide began to recede, a manatee rested in the middle of the street.  My dad said the island had been evacuated, but three fellows who couldn’t or wouldn’t obey orders remained.  They put ropes around the manatee and pulled it a half block to the shore.  After awhile, the great storm-stunned creature swam back to the depths.

Hurray!

to water the manatee returned safely...

to water the manatee returned safely...

My dad offered another Hurricane Charley legend.  Here at the condo, as the storm waters were receding (or had receded, I’m not clear on this part) a woman stepped out of her car.  A long yellow water snake bit her calf as she disembarked and…I’m sorry to report this…she couldn’t shake it off.  To the hospital she went.  I am also not sure if she entered the hospital with snake attached, or if it let go before that moment.  It was not poisonous.

Egrets in the hurricane-created lagoons

Egrets in the hurricane-created lagoons

One of the hurricanes shaped the lagoons that harbor the Bird Sanctuary by which we hike most mornings.  I am almost…almost…wanting to whisper “thank you” to the wild winds that created that beautiful nature preserve.  However, we probably shouldn’t be praising hurricanes too loudly around here.  At least not until we get back to Michigan…

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