The last days of Hurricane Season

In the last days of Hurricane Season in Florida, we begin to relax a bit. A few weeks after the Equinox, the days began to get cooler by one or two degrees.  In Southwest Florida, there is an appreciable difference between 89 and 84 degrees.  89 is oppressive.  At 84, we feel we can cope. At 84, I can get out of my car and walk into a building at mid-day, and not be drenched with sweat.

In Hurricane Season, Honorable Shamans and Fellow Pagans, we are reminded of many spiritual lessons:

1.  In my case, my relationship with the Divine is real and sustaining.  This Season more than the other times of year, tests my faith, again and again.  And the Divine guide and protect me, and comfort me.  Listening to the Divine, is a daily practice.

2.  Striking the balance between planning and going with the flow, is an on-going lesson.

3.  Spiritual people are people.  This year, at least two of my spiritual mentors, people I admire, trust, and learn from, experienced the humbling reality of fear, and anxiety during Hurricane Irma.  So did I.  The best I can do, is learn from this.  What triggers fear?  Too much unknown.  What can I do about that?  Learn more and listen more.

4.  Hurricane Season teaches me,  again and again, how to ask for and receive help, and how to provide help to other people.

5.  The end of Hurricane Season is marked by the arrival of tourists.  Some of them will stay for a weekend, others will stay for the next 6 months.  As our population swells, our food banks need our support.

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You may want to consider celebrating the end of Hurricane Season, by sharing some of your hurricane provisions with a local food pantry.

Share your peace with Mother Earth and Father Sky, and the Big Waters all around us.

(c) 2017 to present, Whale Maiden for the Earthways Shamanic Path.  All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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Hurricane Timewarp

One of the odd dynamics of a hurricane, is that we enter a Timewarp: we loose all track of time, for several weeks. This happens for several reasons.

First, our normal schedules get interrupted with the effort of monitoring a storm. The storm predictions are posted at 2am, 5am, 8am, 11 am, 2 pm, 5pm, 8pm, 11pm. Once a storm is close to making land-fall, the advisories are posted hourly. You would think the rhythmic nature of this service would help you keep track of time, but it does not.

That’s because suddenly, you have so much else to do, preparing your home, and deciding whether to stay or to leave.

Then you are either in your home, eating all your hurricane snacks, too early. Or, you are traveling away frim your home, evacuating. Time is moving at a different speed. You might even go to a different time zine when you evacuate

Then, you are inside some shelter for 24-48 hours, and all the windows are boarded up. It is dark and quiet. You don’t know what day it is. Or the tine.

Then, the lights go out. You sit in your room with a few tgings poeered by a distsnt humming generator, or a flashlight, or candles. Waiting. The longer you sit there, the longer it seems to take. Eventually, you know the storm is over, and you go outside.

The sky is grey-yellow, dark, and ragged. The clouds are beat up, it’s windy, and exhilarating. But you have no clue whst time it is. You return indoors.

Then the clean up begins, while you wait for things to happen: when will the streets be cleared of tree limbs, when will the utility trucks arrive, when will the debris piles be collected, when will insurance agents arrive, when will the gas stations open, when will flood waters receed, when will school reopen, where the heck is FEMA, and when will my lights come back on?

When the lights do return, we all pause to do the Happy Dance.

And then you begin to return to your normal life, while all around your town are the very real signs of a hurticane having passed just a short while ago. Was that just yesterday? Or last week?

It will take awhile before you know.

(c) 2017 to present, Whale Maiden for the Earthways Shamanic Path. All rights reserved.

What Have We Learned, After Hurricane Irma

Now that Hurrican Irma has passed through all of the Florida Peninsula at somewhere between 9 mph and 15 mph, we can all sit somewhere, and reflect upon what we have learned.

1. Florida is a long state, and it takes a really long time for a storm that is 800 miles across, to get all the way out of Florida. Paper maps would have been handy. A tv at the storm shelter, would have been reaally helpful. Or a marine radio.

2. If you bugged out, did you over pack? Do you know what you used, and what you didn’t use, what you could have left behind (strappy sandals) and what you wished you had with you? I wish I had brought more warm shirts. And a rain poncho. This is an opoortunity to reflect upon one’s ability to travel light

3. If you bugged put, did you leave soon enough? Did you get delayed by employers (Dang Them!), or by well meaning friends who were not tracking Irma since September 1st, when it was already a Cat. 3 Hurricane. Most employers were inflexible until the Governor issueed the state-wide disaster declaration (I think THAT happened September 5th), and the schools close. This is an individualized problem.

4. Many people reached out to me before the storm hit, to ask, what should I do, where should I go. I tried to provide suggestions, based upon your property’s elevation, and the age of the building and how it was constructed. The main thing I told people who were deciding whether to evacuate, was to get as far north as possible, as soon as possible, and then pick a diagonal based upon the storm’s updated information.

This is still good advice, but the difficulty is, it takes most people in Southwest Florida a long day to get that far north, and it creates a really long evacuation trip, if you leave soon enough.

I tried to guide some people to local shelters, too, depending upon their circumstances.

5. People who have not gone through a hurrucane before, have absolutely no frame of reference for how big a problem this storm was for Florida. Our state population is 20 million people, plus tourists and animals. At one point before Irma hit, 18 million people, were under evacuation orders. That is 90% of the state’s population. And none of us knew with any comfortable certainty, where the Eye would hit, or when. So, the opportunity to second-guess any decision you make, is very high. And, comments from well-meaning friends/family can derail peiple even further.

6. Making so many major decisions, is a brain-drain. As I edit this on September 20th, many people are still memtally exhausted and suffering from what we now call Post Irma Depression. Be nice to us.

Relaxing Into Irma

There comes a certain point in Hurricane Planning, Honorable Shamans and Fellow Pagans everywhere, where you have to just “relax into,” whatever the Impending Hurricane Irma is going to do. That is the moment where you finally stop second- or third- or even fourth-guessing yourself, and say firmly, “I have done all I could, based on everything I know, up until now.” There is an ever-expanding quantify of information about Hurricane Irma out in the internet at this time. You can’t possibly read all of it, and make a decision about things like, whether to stay in your home, or to leave. And then once you make one decision, then the decision tree opens up, and you are making multiple decisions for days and days. “Ok, so, we’ll leave.” “Fine. Where shall we go?” Here, here, here, … it depends on the storm track! “When shall we go?” Who knows. Go early. Go late. It depends. You can read numerous articles with helpful checklists of what to take with you, if you evacuate. (We like to call it, Bugging Out in my neck of the woods. Then you can put your vital essential objects into your Bug Out Bag.) Sometimes it seems like it should be obvious to take warm clothes with you, if you bug out to the north, in fall, for example. But September in Southwest Florida has no resemblance to Fall, and tge week before a Hurrucane it’s been 90 degrees out and himid, so it is totally out of our minds. Or, to take a rain poncho with you, because this is a Hurricane. No matter what else happens in a Hurricane, you can count on it raining. Just about every person I know in Southwest Florida carries an umbrella in their car. But since Hurricanes also bring WIND, you want the poncho. Sooner or later, the Wind and the Rain will find you. Ypur power will go out. You will light candles and wonder if you have enough, or what was it that article said about oxygen? When your flashlight doesn’t work, you may want to resist the urge to think, “gee, i should have bought just one more battery. I should have gone to the store an hour earlier when they had some…” Stop. Breathe. Be right here. If you are by yourself riding the storm out, know that it will be over soon. You did the best you could. If you are with pets and otger friends and family members, take care of each other, comfort each otger, and enjoy the timevyou spend together. If you are in an evacuation shelter, or a Bug Out Chateaux, smile at your fellow weary travelers. Say Please and Thank you. Hold doors open for people. Share limited resources. See if the Volunteers have a spare poncho. And remember, Hurricanes and other big weather events are just Mother Earth’s way of restoring balance, moving the hot and cold masses around. None of us can change this or control it. So we may as well Relax. Share your peace with Mother Earth and Father Sky and the Big Waters all around us. (c) 2017 to present by Whale Maiden for the Earthways Shamanic Path. All rights reserved.

Hurricane season is coming*… time to check your plans

HURRICANE SEASON IS COMING* , and it is time to check your plans.

(*) The Atlantic Hurricane Season, according to NOAA, runs from June 1 to November 30.  In the Earthways Shamanic Path, we observe Hurricane Season which  starts around August 15 and runs to October 15.  It’s a micro-season.

Each day in July, the Gulf of Mexico water temperature increases, the average daily temperature increases, and the whole Southwest Florida region ripens for a Hurricane.

It is us well past time, Honorable Shamans and Fellow Pagans, for you to make your plans so that you can keep you and your family (however you define that word,) safe.

Quickly:

1. Learn every thing you can about how hurricanes (“tropical disturbsnces”) form, and how they move around.  You must know the difference between a parallel storm, an exiting storm, and, an onshore storm.   (On shore storms are also “entering” storms, they make landfall. )  The way these storms interact on the Southwest coast, are different from the Southeast coast.  You should know why.

2.  You should know what the Saffer-Simpson Scale is.  Google-thusly.

3. Elevation determines evacuation times.  You should know how many feet you live above sea level.  The smaller the number, the more likely you will be asked to evacuate your home during a big storm.  

4.  You need to decide, depending on where you live,  and for each type of storm (parallel, exiting, onshore), what you and your family plan to do, for the different strengths of storms. 

5.  Every family is different, and family needs sometimes change.  Perhaps your family now includes a woman who is now 8 1/2 months pregnant.  Or, perhaps you now have a new born.  Or maybe you are now caring for a frail eldey person.  Or puppies.  This is the time to find shelters which can accommodate your needs.

 6.  Every family’s resources are different, and changable.  For example, if you normally have  a reliable car, what would you do if you needed to evacuate from an onshore storm, but your only car is in the shop, and you have been commuting by bicycle. 

      A typical stormy afternoon in Florida.

7.  Plan, don’t panic.  There is a lot to consider, but if you think about it now, today, and by that I mean over the weekend, you should be able to have an idea, before the middle of August.  Make a gaming session out of it.  (If this, tgen that…)  Then, you can relax and go about your regular day-to-day adventures.

8.  The Spiritual aspect of Hurricane Season is this:  how do you balance the need to plan, the tendency to panic, and the goal of relaxing into your life on a day-to-day basis.  You just do it.

Honor the Seasons where you live.  Delve deeper and Share your Peace with Mother Earth and Father Sky and the Big Waters all around us.

(c) 2017 to present, Whale Maiden for the Earthways Shamanic Path.  All rights reserved.

The End of Hurricane Season – for now

Honorable Shamans and Fellow Pagans…  Oh, Dry Season is coming to Southwest Florida!  We’re excited to leave the Heat and Humidity and Daily Torrential Rainstorms of Hurricane Season behind us.  Particularly the Heat.  And the Humidity.

But first, here is a ritual to close out Hurricane Season.

Ground yourself as described in the Earthways Shamanic Path Stepping Stone #2 – https://whalemaidensuburbanshaman.wordpress.com/2015/10/07/earthways-shamanic-path-stepping-stone-2-get-grounded/

You may complete this Ritual, over the course of several days.  You may do some of it with family members, and some of it by yourself.

First, put your Hurricane Supplies away.  Inspect and clean all your equipment that you got, and put it away.  If you have a generator, follow the instructions to prepare it for long-term storage.  Maybe you can put a tarp over your Storm Shutters.  Make sure your wingnuts are all packed up in the wingnut bucket.  Visit your “To Go” box, and make sure you haven’t left any trash in it.  Make sure to leave a road map of your State or Region in there, and maybe this year’s Storm Guide.  The Storm Guides are usually good for all kinds of disasters, and it is good to have a plan.

Second, bring a sturdy box to your supply of canned food and inspect those cans. (Inspect the expiration dates.)  Are there some that you want to donate to a local food pantry?  This is an excellent time to do this, because after Hurricane Season ends, and the Dry Season starts, our Snowbirds will arrive and the food pantries need more canned foods.  You can also empty the water bottles you created – use them to water plants or your lawn, or your favorite tree.  Release what is no longer needed.

Third, review everything you learned this Hurricane Season about how storms are predicted and tracked, and how intense and unpredictable they really can be. Make some notes about what you and your family need to do in the coming months, to better prepare yourselves for next year’s Hurricane Season.  Visit my previous posts to get an idea.

Forth, review what happened to the people who were in harm’s way in the Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic and Haiti and the Bahamas and Bermuda and South Carolina, and consider donating funds to a reputable disaster relief organization.

Finally, think about what you learned about yourself spiritually, this hot and humid Hurricane Season.  As we pointed out previously, the spiritual aspect of Hurricane Season has to do with planning ahead, and being ready to take correct action, but not letting that constant state of readiness exhaust you, or make you anxious.   And, it also involves asking for help when you need it, and how to offer help to others, when they need it.  Were you able to experience the middle line of having a plan, but being flexible as changing circumstances warranted?  Do you feel that you were adequately prepared for this Hurricane Season?  What did you learn about asking for help and providing help?  Take a few moments to reflect on this, and write about it in your Journal.  Remember, Hurricane Season is an annual event in the Wheel of the Year

Close out this Ritual as directed in the Stepping Stones.

Now's the time to release the canned food items you don't need
Now’s the time to release the canned food items you don’t need

And Remember to Share Peace With Our Earth

© 2015, Whale Maiden.  All Rights Reserved.

Join Whale Maiden in the discussion at the Earthways Shamanic Path – Facebook Group

The Exhilaration of a Hurricane

Honorable Shamans, Hurricane Season can be somewhat … Exhilarating.   Just as soon as we finish getting ready for Hurricane Danny, which dropped down to a Tropical Storm, and then a Tropical Depression, now we are all watching Tropical Storm Erika, — you can look at the  Track of Tropical Storm Erika, 8/25/2015 

It is ok if you didn’t complete everything in my Handy Hurricane Checklist, last week.  Remember, the first step is, “Do Not Panic, Do Not Panic, Do Not Panic.” 

Hurricane Shutter Wing Nut Bucket
Hurricane Shutter Wing Nut Bucket

One of the hardest parts of monitoring a Hurricane, is deciding when to pay attention to it.  That is why the Tropical Prediction Center’s system of “watches” and “warnings” is useful.  The Tropical Prediction Center will post Watches when  tropical cyclone activity  is possible within a given area within 48 hours.   And, it will post Warnings when Tropical Cyclones are expected within a given area within 36 hours.  (For more details, please see the Glossary at the NHC website.)

In my opinion, you want to have all your preparations completed, within 72 hours of a cyclone hitting your area.  That means, 3 days before it hits, you should be all done with your plans, and ready to bug-out, if that was your decision.  The reason for that is, if you are going to bug-out, you want to do it, before everybody else gets on the road.  And, if you are bugging-out, you’ll  want to put at least 150 miles between you and the Storm bulls-eye on your house.  You’ll want to be well north (generally it is better to go North in Florida…but it depends on the projected track… )  of the storm’s projected path, and in a safe place, before the end of that day.

For now though, those of us in Florida have time to continue preparing.  That’s a good thing, because the Handy Hurricane Checklist, was quite long.  And, it is also a good thing, because I bet your Hurricane Shutters are in the back of your garage, and you have to move a whole pile of stuff out of the way to get to them.  And of course, you don’t want to move all that stuff, if you don’t have to.  That’s ok.  Focus on getting your kids back to school, and  making sure you know where your important papers are.

Hurricane Shutters at Rest
Hurricane Shutters at Rest

Another thing to think about is, if a storm hits your town,  how many days should you prepare for?  How many days might you be without power?   In 2004, after Hurricane Charley came through my house, and Southwest Florida, my power came back on within a few days.  However, my neighbors’ power didn’t come back on, for another week.  (I mean, one side of my street had power, the other side didn’t, for 7 days.)  So, as you make your plans, and decide whether you might shelter-in-place, or bug-out,  take that into consideration.  Do you have a generator?  Do you need one?

But meanwhile, and again, do not panic.  Be mindful that  you have time to prepare and make good decisions for you and your family.  And remember that storms change, and you’ll just need to stay flexible.  It is exhilarating, really, because you are experiencing a Force of Nature.  And as Forces of Nature go, Hurricanes are pretty good, because you have time to get prepared!

Next, we will talk about how you can tell if a tropical cyclone is headed your way.

And Honorable Shamans, We Share Peace With Our Earth.