Sunday, October 27, 2019

In the Blink of an Eye

Tornadoes, Fires and Lynchings...

The path of destruction from the Dallas tornado on October 19, 2019
Everything seems to be moving so fast. Maybe it’s the contraction of time you experience as you have more of it behind you than in front of you. Perhaps it’s the residue of all the moments in the present pressing forth upon those moments in the future. I don’t know, really, but what I do know, is that things can change in the blink of an eye.

When I was in Sicily in 2016 and woke up in the back of a car that had been hit by a truck, I was dazed and confused. “Where am I?” where the first words I remember uttering. “Sit down!” was the response. Good idea. I had several broken ribs, a knee that was bulging with a hematoma and a concussion. Not to mention various neck and musculoskeletal pains since. But we were alive, we made it through.

Last Sunday, after dinner, I went outside to look at the sky. It was 8:30 PM CST and as I looked up and to the northwest, something inside of me said this wasn’t going to be good. And barely an hour later, a tornado, ¾ of a mile wide, lasting for 36 minutes and blazing a path of terror for 15 miles, bore down upon our city, our neighborhoods and our lives.

Photo by Robert Wilonsky
All around us, friends and family were threatened. I don’t know how we escaped the wrath of that savage storm. Our plant store was wiped off the face of the map. One of our grocery stores, a hardware store, a couple of favorite restaurants, a fire station and multitudes of trees and birds and little animals were given their final death blow. 32 minutes of unbelievable terror that would last for years.

We hunkered down in the safe room (the wine closet) with the animals. Lights flickered, sirens went off all around us, and the howling of the wind through the trees, which 4 months ago had been ravaged by a hail and wind storm that tore our neighborhood (and our roof) apart. Here we were again, cowering under the foreboding shrill of wind and rain and unbelievable force.

When the tornado took a turn to the left a few miles before us (we were in its path up to then) I was relieved. But knew someone would be paying the price for our good fortune. Our neighbors, our friends, our doctors, many of them came home to scenes of destruction. And it all happened in the blink of an eye.

Photo by Robert Wilonsky - this tree, which stood for decades was thrown 20 feet
Yes, there’s that famous quote, attributed to Sofia Loren, which goes like this: “Don’t cry over anything that can’t cry over you.” A small comfort to those who lost a pet or a venerated tree or a home their grandfather built. But it looks like no humans lost their life in Texas that night. And we can rebuild, we will rebuild.

Meanwhile, our friends and neighbors, colleagues and family are being evacuated from wine country and elsewhere in California. Once again, the homeland is raging out of control with fire and the wrath of nature. One wine writer notes, “…vineyards are surprisingly fire-resistant. They will survive.”

Yes, they will. But every year, something. Every blink of the eye, something. Endless, endless.

I cannot write about wine today. Nor can I engage, now or anytime, on social media, with infobahn-bullies and cyber-stalkers. What’s the point?

Look, disasters hit everywhere. Houston to the south seems to be constantly plagued with their share of travails. At least the Astros are still in the running.

New Orleans, my sweet little ancestral disembarkation port, where my great, great grandfather landed. What horrors she has been subjected to. Did any of my ancestors witness the mass-lynching of 1891, when 11 Italian Americans were murdered by white nationalists? Yes, I can use the word “lynch,” as it also happened to us.

Photo by Robert Wilonsky
Everywhere, it seems, we’re just a moment away from the noose or the halo, depending on where we are in history, in time. And our luck.

Today, I’m grieving for our friends and neighbors, and all the trees and little animals that didn’t have the luck we had, last Sunday.

The red dot = where we live - close to the path of the tornado
But we're alive, we made it through.

 written by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy
wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W

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