Frances has moved on to the west coast of Florida, north of Tampa Bay, and is now, for the time being, a tropical storm. It may pick up again and become a hurricane as it picks up some more juice and heat over the Gulf of Mexico, but for now, it’s outta here, leaving behind a huge mess, untold numbers of trees and homes knocked down, lives disrupted, and nothing much to show for it other than pain for the poor who can’t afford shutters and insurance. Kind of like a huge Mother Nature version of the Republican National Convention.
I ventured out around 11:30 when they announced that Publix supermarkets were open. I got into the Pontiac and drove it around the block just to make sure that it was still running. It has some leaks around the roofline so the headliner was soaked (it’s the second thing that’s going to be replaced on it when I restore it; number one is the power steering rack and pinion, which gave up the ghost over a year ago). I put it back into the garage, opened the windows, soaked up the excess moisture with some towels, and went to the store in the Mustang. Now that all we’re getting is a steady rain, I’m not worried about some errant tree limb coming through the air like a SCUD missile and impaling the convertible top.
Publix was not crowded, which surprised the heck out of me. All of the perishable dairy and meats were off the shelves and in storage in case a power outage, but everything else, including frozen foods and fresh produce, was available. I picked up the necessities of life – salad fixings, blueberries and Grape Nuts, orange juice, and some Banquet frozen fried chicken (I’ve been craving that for weeks) – but had to forego the milk, cottage cheese, and English muffins. I can get those tomorrow.
There was a collection basket for hurricane relief at the check out. It didn’t say which hurricane; they were still collecting for Charley last week. Having just gotten paid and feeling grateful for the fact that I made it through my first brush with a hurricane without a scratch (unless you consider sheer boredom with the same stories over and over again on local TV), I dropped $10 in the bucket. It’s not much, but it does make the survivor’s guilt just a touch easier to bear. And I would have blown the $10 on Dove chocolate, anyway.