The tailwinds of Hurricane Nate whistle through the trees this morning, providing a rhythm section to birdsong and punctuated by the cymbal shriek of our guineafowl and the deep baritone bray of Jack the Ass. Aside from a forgotten wind chime, spread-eagle on the grass, all is as it should be on the farm.
What did we ever do in these situations before street-level radar and Jim Cantore? How did people know it was time to make a run on bread and batteries, or jump in their bathtubs (which should have been filled with clean water if they followed the hurricane preparedness guides correctly) when their cell phones screeched out yet another tornado warning? Who would have ever expected a hook signature or rotation in a hurricane without the good folks at the media to help us through the storm?
Now, I’m not going to pick on Jim Cantore. Any man who can juggle his pecs a la The Rock while spelling out potential doom is okay by me. I’m not going to chuckle too much at the local third string weatherman who spotted a waterspout (via the station’s remote camera, mind you) and gave us the play-by-play as it made its way to the beach, his tone more like that of a sports commentator calling a touchdown run as the thought of a future Emmy could be read on his face as plainly as the waterspout/tornado appeared on the split screen. That Emmy run dissipated as quickly as the waterspout when the station hit a rather unfortunate (for the weatherman) spate of tech issues. I understand the gravity of the situation, especially in light of recent storms, and I’m sure many of us here on the Gulf Coast are relieved that this one was a bit, well, overblown.
As we breathe a collective sigh of relief, I’d like to provide you with a light-hearted look at this dark and stormy experience.
Hurricane Preparations: You could smell the hope and teen spirit rise on Friday as 1800 cell phones vibrated simultaneously with the storm warning, causing the high school to register as an epicenter on the Richter Scale. “I’ll bet school will be out on Monday!” flew like a viral tweet across the campus, most likely perpetrated by the overwrought teachers.
The superintendent, who apparently has Jim Cantore on speed-dial, issued multiple cease and desist orders for the idea of closing school while simultaneously admonishing school personnel to keep the millions of dollars worth of school technology housed in classrooms high, dry, and backed up just in case the worst occurred. People started to worry that Friday night football might be cancelled. The superintendent wisely chose not to take the school system to Def-Con 1 until Saturday morning.
Closings: Social media lit up over the course of Saturday as Lower Alabama collectively rolled up the sidewalks and tucked in. APB’s of which stores had water and a well-timed truckload bread sale peppered Facebook. Hundreds of well-meaning citizens, including me, posted about how they were personally battening down the hatches. Then things got real. The churches started cancelling Sunday services. Nothing else was quite as effective in putting worry into the heart as the news that the Lord would be sitting this one out.
Hurricane Cooking: You never know if, when, and for how long you’re going to lose power during a hurricane, so it’s time to put on the feed bag. Hurricane cooking is second only to a good funeral spread, and with the news of no meeting on Sunday, I just threw caution to the wind. Hurricane cooking is defensive cooking meant to soothe the soul and the nerves, so I pretty much said to heck with health and stuck to a menu that completely ignores cholesterol warnings.
We feasted on bacon-wrapped Conecuh sausage bites kissed with brown sugar, spicy chili with a pone of cornbread, fried okra (hand-breaded, none of that frozen mess), and “Redneck” burgers. Crisco was heavily involved.
To take the edge off, I whipped up a pitcher of Hurricane Wine Punch. This is a sweet “nectar of the gods” kind of drink that somehow only tastes right if you keep it in an earthenware crock. You guys who know me understand that I’m not fond of measuring when it comes to cooking, but a number of my Facebook friends have asked for the recipe, so do your best.
Mix up about half a bottle of muscadine wine, a bottle of red wine, a jigger or two of Cat Daddy moonshine, a splash of lemon juice, about a cup of sugar, and some Milo’s. Squeeze a lime into it and let it set in the fridge for a couple of hours. It’s mighty fine sippin’.
I’ll be sippin’ some more today. You know, to take the edge off the upcoming school week.