““Because this is home.” She wanted to see if the words registered with me, but I just looked back at her, not understanding at all.
After a deep breath, she looked up at a tall oak tree beyond the garden, its leaves still green against the early October sky, the limbs now thick with foliage. “Because the water recedes, and the sun comes out, and the trees grow back. Because” -she spread her hands, indicated the garden and the trees and, I imagined, the entire peninsula of Biloxi- “because we’ve learned that great tragedy gives us opportunities for great kindness. It’s like a needed reminder that the human spirit is alive and well despite all evidence to the contrary.” She lowered her hands to her sides. “I figured I wasn’t dead, so I must not be done” ~ The Beach Trees
As someone who has the majority of her heart at the ocean the recent hurricane is devastating. It is made even more personal as I have family and friends there (they are all alright thankfully). I was just in the Carolinas a week ago and while they weren’t affected by then hurricane Fiona, you could see the sea was quite the pissed off angry mistress. Fast forward a few days later and Florida and South Carolina were devastated by hurricane Ian. As we reel from mother nature’s wrath the age old question is asked, “do we rebuild?”
“Why invest all that time and money when each hurricane season brings a new threat?”
Aimee regarded me with a steady blue gaze. “Why build skyscrapers in San Francisco that might be knocked down by an earthquake? Or why build farms in Kansas and Oklahoma that might get blown away by a tornado?…Where did they want us to go, anyway? I figure if we’re still breathing, then we’re meant to keep going. So we rebuild. We start over. It’s just what we do.”
I had shared this quote in a post a few years ago. The Beach Trees by Karen White is one of my favorite books and touches on that very question. Set in Biloxi, Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina devastated it, as much as it is a woman’s southern fiction book, it is also a love letter to a city and region that continues to be resilient. That despite what people say, continue to rebuild, and rebuild better and stronger than before.
Yes those on the southern shores of the Atlantic and those who live on the Gulf could move in land, but as the quote above says, no place is necessarily safe. Life is a risk. Every region has trial and tribulations. You are going to run into extreme weather everywhere you go. It is filled with risk, so why not live where you are happiest?
If you have never visited America’s southern shores, you may not understand it, but they are some of the nicest people with the prettiest coast out there. There is a laid backness, and ease, that we could all benefit from especially those of us who live in the uptight North (yes it is true friends). But there is also a huge respect for the ocean. They don’t live their carelessly, they know what she is capable of and they respect her for it. But they also appreciate the beauty, the peacefulness, and the connection to nature. The ocean is in their blood, as it is in mine, and it won’t dissuade them.
I wrote this in my blog post “Ultimately, The Beach Trees is a love letter to a city and a region that refused to give up after being the Ground Zero for Katrina’s destruction, despite what people said about the rebuilding process. It is a testament that love doesn’t die, no matter how much it can be broken down and ravaged. It can be found again, it can be rebuilt, and it can be stronger then before.”
It is still so applicable three years later. Tragedy is the one guarantee in life, but so is our perseverance and grit. Life tests us, but we can meet it head on. For those that live on the coast we just get tested extra, but we are able to rise to that challenge and we will rebuild. I am sending so much love to those in Florida and South Carolina, we are with you and you will rise again. <3
To help with recovery efforts you can donate here to the Redcross.