One Earth

Embrace the World. Photo by mrcolo from Pixabay.

Photo by NASA from Unsplash.


One Earth

Our Earth, one small blue planet, spins in space.

By day, we turn toward one blazing star.

By night, one moon reflects our star’s bright face,

one star among vast galaxies afar.

One fragile atmosphere envelopes Earth.

One rocky mantle guards its molten core.

One water fills the deep and gives clouds birth.

One land, five continents defined by shores.

Rainforest monkeys chatter in the trees.

In beds of giant kelp, sea otters play.

The lungs of earth are places such as these;

preserving habitats our task today.

All living things are one, fates intertwined;

Earth’s fortunes shape your destiny and mine.

Sea otters in a bed of giant kelp. Photo by Kieran Wood from Unsplash.

Photo by Antoni Shkraba from Pexels.

Photo by Rodnae Productions from Pexels.


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia


Update

A couple of weeks ago, we found undiscovered hurricane damage to our house. Dealing with the insurance company, roofing companies, and contractors is consuming a lot of time and energy, and I have had to put my planned projects on hold. The insurance company has approved a new roof, payment for tree removal, and some needed repairs. Contractors are very busy with all the damage to properties here, and ours is not an emergency, so it may be some months before the work is completed.

Surviving Hurricane Ian; Cardinals and Other Househunters; I Remember Grandma Washing Clothes

View of the street in front of our house the morning after hurricane Ian, Thursday, 9/29/22. The water was about three feet deep, but by the next day, the roads were mostly dry.

Hurricane Ian

Worst Storm in Florida History

Wednesday, 9/28/22

Ian was the largest Florida Hurricane on record. Slow-moving, it dropped huge amounts of rain and had storm surges of up to eighteen feet in coastal areas. Flooding was extensive. Wind speeds of up to 155 miles per hour and gusts of up to 190 miles per hour were recorded.

Southwest Florida was hit very hard, but fifty-seven of Florida’s sixty counties were affected before the storm moved up the East coast of the US.

View from our backyard, Thursday, 9/29/22. Most of the trees are gone from the wooded lot behind our house, and the yard was surrounded by a “moat.”

Hurricane Ian Information

Sunday, 10/9/22

Today is twelve days after Hurricane Ian. Most of the information here is from various sources, such as personal experience, observation, and word-of-mouth, though I watched hurricane news until the power went off on Thursday afternoon, 9/28/22. Our out-of-town relatives looked up news for us on the internet and gave us information over the phone after the phones started working.

I will be happy to get more in-depth hurricane news since our internet and TV came back on tonight. I know that much of the news will be tragic. Many people have had their homes and businesses damaged or destroyed, and over 100 have lost their lives. Of course, there will also be stories of people helping each other and stories of hurricane heroes.

View from our driveway, Thursday, 9/29/22. The water in the street was about three feet deep, covering the mailbox post and the bottom of our driveway.

Surviving Hurricane Ian

Nine Haikus and a Tanka

Tuesday, 9/27/2022

Flashlights, batteries,

storm shutters, propane, water,

ice…Are we ready?

Wednesday, 9/28/2022

Epic hurricane!

Both we and our house survived

the wrath of Ian!

Thursday, 9/29/2022

Downed trees surround us.

Homeless birds are house-hunting…

heart-rending chirping!

Children play outside,

jumping on their trampoline,

full of joy and life!

Helicopters pass.

No power, no phone service.

Internet is down.

Neighborhood kids wade

and row an inflated boat

down the flooded street.

Grown-ups are working

to bring order to chaos,

helping each other.

Heard in the distance,

generators and chainsaws,

fumes of gasoline.

Faint smoke in the air,

smells of wet wood burning and

supper on the grill.

A tiny flashlight

illuminates my paper

as I write tonight.

At last, loved ones’ calls connect.

“Yes, we are fine!” we tell them.


Jugs filled with filtered water and a propane burner in our lanai kitchen.

Advance Preparations

Tuesday, 9/27/22

Knowing we might not have running water, we filled the bathtubs with water for flushing the commodes and gallon jugs with RO-filtered water for drinking. We froze jugs of water to keep food cold in case of power outages. We also bought a bucket to carry water from the water tank outside.

Some items that are always in short supply during hurricanes are batteries and paper products, so we keep them on hand. For cooking on the lanai, we have a propane burner, tanks of propane, and matches in a waterproof container. We also have flashlights and a small battery-operated fan.

Gas shortages and long gas lines are common during storms, so we filled up our car’s gas tank. We fully charged our cell phones and have a charger in the car for backup.

We didn’t put our storm shutters up because predictions until the last minute were for a storm with maximum winds of 46 miles per hour. We don’t have a generator; the noise and the gas fumes are a problem for us.

Meat department of a grocery store. On a couple of days, they ran out of ice. One day I shopped there, and they were out of milk. Today they were out of eggs and sour cream. In the first few days after the storm, there were lines outside of some grocery stores.

Living Conditions

Charlotte County, Florida

Thursday, 9/29/22-Sunday, 10/9/22

Traffic has been extremely heavy. There have been long lines at gas stations, and some stations were out of gas. Grocery stores sell out of items such as ice, meat, eggs, milk, and paper products faster than they can restock the shelves. Some restaurants are open. They have faced shortages, but they have adapted and are serving large crowds. Schools are closed until further notice. Mail deliveries resumed after a few days. Garbage pickup will resume soon.

We had no electricity or running water for over a week at our house. Power returned on Saturday, 10/8/22, and the internet came back on Sunday, 10/9/22. About 95% of customers now have power. Cell phone service was off for a day, then was erratic, but has gradually improved.

Major roads were quickly cleared and traffic signals were in service. Secondary roads are mostly clear, but not all traffic signals are operational.

Floods in our neighborhood subsided in a day, but there may still have been flooding elsewhere for a while. We think the numerous canals in our neighborhood overflowed. Robert found a dead fish in our yard after the water went down. Phew!


Male cardinal. Photo by Aaron Doucette from Unsplash.

Cardinals & Other Househunters

Sonnet

Friday, 9/30/22

Oh, bright red bird perched on a scrap of vine

amid trees fallen in a hurricane,

your chirping reaches from your heart to mine.

Oh, little homeless bird, I feel your pain!

The female cardinal soon joins her mate.

Now side-by-side in silence, feeling calm,

their top priority is real estate.

Away they fly in search of their new home.

Although the cardinals are out of sight,

their joyful melodies drift in the air.

May their new treehouse be exactly right!

I hope that they are safe and happy there.

May displaced humans, squirrels, and raccoons,

and all househunters find their dream homes soon!

Male and female cardinals. Photo by Aaron Doucette from Unsplash.

Power company bucket truck working in our neighborhood.

Cleanup & Recovery

Thursday, 9/29/22-Sunday, 10/9/22

There are several staging areas nearby. Electrical crews from many Florida counties and multiple states, Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, Rubicon volunteers, The Florida National Guard, sheriff’s deputies, and state police from many Florida counties are some of the people working here.

All of the cleanup and recovery efforts have been well-coordinated, and the various agencies have accomplished an amazing amount of work in less than two weeks since Hurricane Ian struck. A Rubicon volunteer I talked to told me that they will be here until Thanksgiving, clearing roads and assisting Floridians with emergency repairs.

A huge thank you to everyone for their efforts to return Florida to normal after Hurricane Ian!

This was how I did my laundry on the second day after Hurricane Ian.

I Remember Grandma Washing Clothes

Friday, 9/30/22

The second day

after Hurricane Ian,

with no power or running water,

while it was still cool outside,

I set up a table on the patio.

Carrying water in a bucket

from the water tank,

Robert and I filled and refilled two basins,

one to wash and one to rinse.

I washed twelve pairs of underwear,

five nightshirts,

and two pairs of socks.

I hung the clothes on hangers

to dry in the sun and the breeze

Then I watched the clouds

forming in the sky.

If it rained,

the clothes would have to finish drying

on the lanai.

It took me a couple of hours

to wash the clothes.

All that time, I thought of Grandma

making soap from lard and lye,

and boiling it in a big kettle over a fire.

About 1956, I watched Grandma do laundry.

She washed her clothes

in a wringer washer in her basement,

then hung them outside to dry

on the clotheslines.

When they were dry,

she carried them upstairs

and sprinkled them with water

before she ironed them.

There were no steam irons then,

and there was very little wash-and-wear.

Grandma did her laundry

in many steps,

and she climbed many steps too!

Grandma was born around 1903.

She and Grandpa

purchased and remodeled

her childhood home

when she was in her fifties.

When Grandma was living

in that same house as a child,

they pumped well water

with a pitcher pump in the yard…

no wringer washer

in the basement,

no indoor plumbing,

and probably no electricity.

I remember

that Grandma was very proud

of her collection of antique flat irons

made of solid iron,

the ones that you heated

on the woodstove

before you ironed your clothes.

She probably used those same irons

as a child living in that very house.

How Grandma would laugh

if she could see me now,

carrying well water in a bucket

and washing clothes outdoors

in 2022!

Cheryl Batavia in the outdoor laundry. Shades of 1903, but without the washboard and the flat irons! Photo by Robert Snyder.

Positive Notes on Hurricane Ian

Saturday, 10/8/22

Downed trees from the vacant wooded lot next door blew against our house.
Tops of fallen trees against the window.

Farewell to Trees!

Although we didn’t put storm shutters up, and trees blew down against our roof and windows, there is no damage except for some minor gutter repairs. It truly was amazing, and definitely terrifying, to watch Hurricane Ian slam into our house for about eight hours!

This house in our neighborhood has storm shutters just like ours, but they actually put theirs up! The fence was no match for Hurricane Ian.

The Power is On!

Thursday, 10/6/22

One result of living through Hurricane Ian is a new appreciation for electricity. Nearly everything we do requires an innovative approach without power. I was so happy to take a shower! No more carrying endless buckets of water! No more schlepping ice! No more writing poems by flashlight!

Moonrise over the remains of trees that blew over against our windows during Hurricane Ian. Friday, 10/7/22. We have a crew coming this week to cut up the branches and carry them to the street for FEMA to pick up.

Welcome, Autumn!

One great development is that Ian ushered in beautiful autumn weather…sunny days, cool mornings and evenings, and the bright harvest moon!

Hello, Birds!

Saturday, 10/8/22

Mockingbird. Photo by Pexels User from Pexels.
Male cardinal. Photo by Aaron Doucette from Unsplash.

Cardinals have been the predominant birds in our immediate neighborhood, but since the storm, I have seen several mockingbirds. I love both birds, but the mockingbirds are wonderful singers. Today the weather was gorgeous, and I had lunch on the lanai. For nearly an hour, mockingbirds performed a concert for Robert and me. They have a stunning repertoire!

There are two large oak trees on the other side of the vacant lots behind our house that survived Hurricane Ian. I think the cardinals may have found a new home there.

We have also seen a colorful blue jay a few times.

I hope they all stick around!

Blue Jay. Photo by Aaron Doucette from Unsplash.

Helping Each Other

The jatropha in our backyard after Hurricane Ian uprooted it.

One of the nicest things we have experienced during the aftermath of Hurricane Ian is people helping each other, both their neighbors and total strangers.

Our neighbors are very busy and hard-working and have plenty to do, but they have offered to help us. Our kind neighbor replanted two Jatrophas that the storm ripped out of the ground. We are watering them and hoping for another miracle.

What an inspiring family!

Our jatropha before the hurricane. Read about our jatropha miracle.

gulfcoastpoet.com/2022/09/04/ode-to-a-young-jatropha/
Robert on our front porch the morning after Hurricane Ian visited us. Thursday, 9/29/ 22

Spending Time Together

Robert and I have enjoyed working together to overcome the challenges we have faced from Hurricane Ian. We liked chatting on the lanai over our morning tea in the cool mornings and talking about the events of the day in the evenings. Having a few late lunches together in a cool restaurant was pleasant when we had no air conditioning at home.

Occasionally, we took time out to play a game of Scrabble. A couple of times, I even won! At night, we played by the light of a tiny flashlight hung from the ceiling fan with a piece of string.

It’s great to spend time with the ones you love in the good times, but it’s especially great in challenging times!

Our dining table looks out to the lanai and our outdoor kitchen. A great place for a game of Scrabble!

Final Thoughts

A lot of people are probably wondering whether the intensity of Hurricane Ian is the result of climate change. I believe it is, and I think that we will continue to have increasingly severe weather events if we fail to reverse global warming. We all need to do our part.

Wherever you are, I send you best wishes for health and happiness. Be safe, and remember that life is a little sweeter when people help each other. ❤


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia

Ode to a Young Jatropha

Zebra butterfly gathering nectar from a Jatropha Integerrima flower. Photo by Siala from Pixabay.

Ode to a Young Jatropha

A Florida favorite we revere

delights in winter sun and summer rains.

Jatropha blooms in scarlet splendor here

and blooming daily, honeybees sustains.

Beloved by spritely zebra butterflies,

a cheery view outside our windowpane!

Our balmy winters we gratefully prize.

Jatropha, welcome! May you long remain!

Jack Frost, unbidden, killed you to the ground.

I gave up hope, and soon declared you dead

when armadillos came and dug around,

But Robert watched and watered you instead.

In spring, you rose; in winter, you grew tall.

Jatropha, you were never dead at all!

Photo of an armadillo by Victor Miyata from Pexels.
Our little Jatropha. The shadow is of me taking the photo.
Robert with the Jatropha whose life he saved after it froze to the ground. Photo by Cheryl Batavia.

In just three short months our Jatropha grew from the roots to nearly six feet tall and wide. This winter, I will begin to prune and shape it.

Last spring, we planted another Jatropha in the front yard to replace a tree that died in the freeze. The nursery said that it was not uncommon for frozen Jatrophas to regrow. Our little shrub was newly-planted and vulnerable. Older Jatrophas in the neighborhood had minimal damage, and quickly recovered.

The last freeze in South Florida was in 2010. Freezes happen about every 10 years, and most tropical plants do survive. Let’s hope climate change does not make freezes more common here.

Copyright © 2022 by Cheryl Batavia

To my Blogging Friends,

Before moving, my son spent ten days with us. During his visit, I spent too much time outdoors in the heat. What started as an allergic reaction to soil molds became a sinus infection. Though I almost never have a headache, I experienced five weeks of severe daily headaches, some days all day. I also suffered extreme fatigue and brain fog.

When I realized I had a sinus infection, I called my doctor’s office for an appointment. My doctor wouldn’t see me and sent me to the walk-in clinic because my symptoms resembled covid. I was in the clinic for three hours being tested for covid and the flu. Both tests were negative. I got some antibiotics, and I am finally over the sinus infection and recovering my energy.

As I am able, I will begin spending more time on WordPress. I am glad to be back! ❤

Environmental Gems & Green Haiku

Photo by Dustan Woodhouse from Unsplash.
Photo by Annie Spratt from Unsplash.
Photo by Jo-Anne McArthur from Unsplash.

Environmental Gems

Reduce,

Reuse, Recycle!

Choose organic foods.

Use green energy sources.

Protect wildlife and wildlife habitat.

Stop pollution of the land, air, and water.

Manage forests to control fires and prevent floods.

Maintain public lands and nature preserves.

Use plant-based plastic substitutes.

Develop green energy sources.

Practice organic farming.

Plant trees.

Vote.

Photo by Joanne Francis from Unsplash.
Photo by John Middecoop from Unsplash.

Green Haiku

Create; don’t destroy!

Clean up the messes we’ve made.

Make peace with nature.

Ruins of war, Syria. Photo by Mahmood Sulaiman from Unsplash.
If we don’t work now to save the environment, we may all become as extinct as the dodo!
Photo, McGill Library from Unsplash.

Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia

Happy Earth Day!

Beyond Earth

Astronauts walking on the moon in 1969, Planet Earth is in the sky. Photo by Joe Han from Unsplash.

Beyond Earth

Hidden by the moon

are stars brighter than the moon…

our earth-perspective.

Beyond the boundaries of earth,

we explore wider vistas.

This morning I woke with a poem I wrote when I was about sixteen years old running through my mind. I wrote the tanka poem above, paraphrasing the poem I remembered from nearly sixty years ago, an update for today. I don’t have a copy of that old poem,”Stars,” but I have reconstructed it from memory and posted it below.

Full moon and stars. Photo by Josh Miller from Unsplash.

Stars

Hidden by the moon

are millions of stars

brighter than the moon.

Because we are small,

it is so.

Because we are wise,

we understand.

Space suit worn by a Russian Cosmonaut, Moscow museum. Photo by iman_os from Unsplash.

When I was eight years old, Russia launched Sputnik, the first satellite, and the “space race” began. Antique relics from early space exploration are on display now in museums. In 1969, when I was twenty, Americans landed on the moon. For the first time, there were photos of the whole earth taken from space.

Planet Earth from space. Photo by NASA from Unsplash.
International Space Station. Photo by NASA from Unsplash.
Space Shuttle. Photo taken in Mexico by Ivan Diaz from Unsplash.

Now, in 2022, fifty-two years after astronauts landed on the moon, unmanned spacecraft routinely photograph distant planets and send the images back to earth. Satellites are used for spy missions and international communication. They show us hurricanes from above, and help to predict weather. Commercial Space travel is in its infancy. Drones are used in warfare and by amateur photographers. Many dead satellites and other “space junk” orbit the earth.

Andromeda Galaxy seen from Russia. Photo by Tengyart from Unsplash.

Humans have much bigger dreams for future travel in space. Before us lie some important lessons about restoring and protecting this beautiful Planet Earth and living in peace with our neighbors. If, in the future, we settle in new worlds, we need to remember those lessons, respect and preserve those new environments, and live in harmony with any civilizations we discover. Star treks, yes…star wars, no!

Sunset in Goa, India, one of the beautiful places on Planet Earth. Photo by Ashutosh Saraswat from Unsplash.

Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia


Dear Fellow Bloggers,

After two failed root canals, a tooth extraction, and extensive testing of his eyes with different eye drop prescriptions, Robert has finally been cleared for cataract surgery. Numerous appointments have been scheduled for February. I may sometimes be absent from WordPress in the weeks to come. We look forward to Robert’s pre-cataract vision being restored. Many thanks to all of you who have expressed concern for Robert.

Kindest Regards,

Cheryl Batavia