Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Are We A Clause In A Book?

I've done a lot of reading in my 50 years. I've read all kinds of books, but I favor non-fiction. In the past few years, I've read "Flu: The Story of The Great Influenza Pandemic" by Gina Kolata and "Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883" by Simon Winchester. One of the interesting things about reading books like these is that you know what is coming, you dread it, you don't want to continue reading - but you can, because you are just a reader. You are not the story. That's long past. Some lived and some died. But the action covered in a short sentence in a book may have taken a year or more to occur in the real life of a participant. And they didn't know what was coming. So they went from day to day thinking, "Is the worst over?" "Boy, I sure got sick, but I'll be real careful from now on to stay away from sick people...." - or whatever. And then boom. Disaster overtakes them running. In the short space of one sentence in a book, several months or more of a person's day to day life is covered.

And the reader just heaves a big sigh, thinks how tragic it all must have been, and closes the book to do something else.

Having lived through two hurricanes last year and watched 4 hurricanes rake other parts of Florida the year before that I have to wonder. Are we here in South Florida a paragraph in a book? Something like this:

In April of 1918 there was a mild flu that erupted in Western Europe and then ran it's course. However, it was just in hibernation. During the summer it was morphing into a killer. By October of 1918 it was ready to burst onto the scene of history as a deadly virus with symptoms similar to today's Ebola. (These are my own words - not a quote from a book, but the facts are true).

Are we the sentence "however it was just in hibernation"? When the hurricane season strikes this year are we going to get hit with a Big One? So many roofs are still covered with blue plastic. So many fences are still not fixed. The trees look like spindley sticks with pom poms of leaves here and there - at least the ones that didn't keel over and get chopped up and made into mulch. There are still concrete (yes, concrete) poles that are leaning at a Hitchcock angle. And June first is only three months away. The beginning of hurricane season. So many days have gone by since October 22, when Wilma hit here - and so many more days to come.....all in the short space of a sentence in a book.

I wish I could close this book and get up and get a drink or something. I sure wish I wasn't in this particular story, and to say that I'd like to leave Florida before the next hurricane season is an understatement of monumental proportions.

Oh - and let's not even get started on the bird flu - the touted H5N1 virus just like the 1918 flu that is poised to pass from birds to people in the space of a there a deserted island I can get to quick - out of the hurricane zone???


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