FISHTRAP HOLLOW, Miss. — I had not expected to see a Mississippi spring this year. I was Out West, pretending to not miss it.
I flew home early because of a friend’s illness. I was sorry for the reason, but grateful to see this spectacular spring.
The riot of color — Granny Smith apple green, blush pink and baby teeth white — that swells to a crescendo about this time every year greeted me. As I rode between the Memphis airport and my home, I was overcome, same as I am every year, by the natural beauty of home turf.
It had been dramatic and impressive in the shadow of Pike’s Peak, but a little gray for my April longings. I am a Southerner and have a need for humidity and pollen.
Less than a week after my arrival, the fickle spring weather took a deadly turn. Tornadoes made us duck and cover. It looks as if Russell Crowe’s “Noah” was filmed in the back yard. While I toted pillows to the bathroom, the ark’s animals shivered around my feet. And people lost their lives and homes to the south of me.
The Weather Channel bragged just a few weeks back about the calmest tornado season in over six decades, crediting the cooler spring. I guess Mother Nature accepted the challenge. Deaths in Oklahoma and Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama mounted.
Last month I was writing about the burn area on a Colorado mountain range. Spring floods were feared. Now I’m writing about tornadoes. I will be on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in time for hurricane season.
The point would be that wherever you go, wherever you settle, there’s really no home free. We can run but not hide. We are all at the mercy of the elements and the fates — and insurance conglomerates with farm or state in their names. Heaven help us.
I just received my home owner’s policy — “This is not a bill” — to be followed soon by a bill. This tells me what will happen in the case of natural disaster(s). If my little house is swept to Oz, I will know what to expect, or, not to expect.
They will pay me in case of a lightning strike, but not for a flood. They will pay me if the house collapses, but not if an earthquake causes it. They will pay in case of wind and hail “unless modified by endorsement,” whatever that means.
Should some catastrophe occur, they will pay a percentage of what my house and its contents are worth, but I will pay them in full upon receipt of the bill. But, then, everyone’s in the same ark, floating on flood waters and dread.
And that brings me back to the Old Testament, its vengeful God and gratuitous gore. I hated the Noah story as a child, not understanding how everyone, especially young children and grandmothers and puppy dogs could deserve to die in floodwaters. The only thing worse, I thought as a kid, was boarding a boat with snakes, crocodiles and bats.
Maybe Russell & Company got it right, and Noah’s story was a parable about ecological consequence and cleansing, the big insurance mogul in the sky deciding who deserved to survive.
To find out more about Rheta Grimsley Johnson and her books, visit www.rhetagrimsleyjohnsonbooks.com.