It was a tall and skinny old slash pine but it wasn’t too much for the Florida man. He shimmied – “Granny what does shimmy mean?” –
It means he climbed straight up the tree with no branches to help him.
Oh… The child’s voice trailed off still not understanding. Granny went over to the nearest tall pine, shook off her flip flops and wrapped her arms around it as high up as she could reach. Then she jumped up, grabbing a hold of the bottom of the trunk with her bare feet.
Granny hugged the tree as she moved slowly up it like a caterpillar.
The children cheered and egged Granny on but she hopped down. They clapped their hands and she took a small bow.
That, my children is shimmiing up a tree. A thing most Floridians could do and the best ones, like the man in my story I’m trying to tell, could walk across the sky on the tree tops.
The children oooed and ahhed…
Granny lowered her voice and continued her tale…
The Florida man shimmied up that old slash pine, right to the top where it started to bend over on him. Then he held onto the branches of the other trees and stood up, balancing like a surfer on the tree he climbed.
Granny stood sideways and mimicked the surfers on the waves. Knees bent, arms out… Granny rocked her body side to side and ever so gently took a step forward. Toe first. She tapped the Earth with it. Just like that kids! She exclaimed happily. The Florida man tiptoed out onto another old slash pine top. Balancing on the bending trees he moved across the treetops almost silently.
He was tree surfin through the forest children. A lost art.
The kids murmured among themselves. One said loud enough to be heard that he would do it! He would master tree surfing…
Granny chuckled softly to herself, eavesdropping. The old lady cleared her throat and winked at the children. The fire flickered brightly at them. A low roll of thunder snuck up from the background.
Y’all hear that? Granny leaned her head to the side and listened as she asked the children offhandedly. They nodded seriously as lightening flickered softly through the clouds growing above their heads. Clouds now racing across the bright quarter moon.
People used to talk of hearing that for days and days. Granny nodded and rocked back and forth on her haunches. Tonight she wore a billowy pair of cotton short pants and a large thin white shirt. The sleeves were rolled up a little. Her customary rubber flip flops were on her feet and her fat braid lay in a coil around them on the ground.
Granny leaned her head back and lightening lit up the sheen on her tan face. She looked like she was going to howl at the moon. The kids were nervous.
She didn’t howl. After a second or two she began to speak. Mesmerizing the children with her tone…
The people told tales of never ending darkness. Never ending thunder rolling through the clouds and winds that blew for months and years. Rains that never stopped. The rivers filled, all the ponds and lakes… All the oceans. Everything. Water… Granny faded off…
“What about Florida Granny!?” An impatient child wailed out. Granny looked at the skinny little girl.
Florida is where it all began my dear…. Where it all began…
They had been waiting on the storm to get there for a week. Typical Florida stuff… No one there was afraid of a storm, in fact, they celebrated them with parties and fearless displays in the face of Mother Nature.
She was proud I’m sure. Granny nodded and the children did too.
The weather God people talking on the boxes were keeping everyone up to date on where it was, how big it was, how big it would get, where it was going and what it would do. The Floridians waited… They geared up, stocked supplies and bought the stores all out of water, this food stuff in cans, batteries, flashlights and more. They loved a good storm, and this was a good one.
Category 5 the weather Gods said on the box… Huge Storm of the Century! Everyone on the American East Coast was watching.
Anticipation was thick.
Granny lowered her voice and squinted her eyes at the kids… People fought over supplies. Food, water…
The kids couldn’t believe it. They shook their heads.
Finally the storm was upon them. The weather Gods forecast out to the population of Florida like misguided psychics. They told people the storm was a Category 5… They told people to “hunker down” – That’s what they said…
“What did it mean Granny?”
Well… I’m guessing it meant to lean in against the wind or something like that but when the weather Gods said it; they meant for you to stay in your house.
Anyways… People hunkered down in their homes and watched the sky turned black outside their windows. They saw the winds pick up and start lashing through the trees and bushes.
Things started blowing around… Chairs, wind chimes… Trees.
People watched as they stayed safely inside. They watched the storm on the boxes more than out of the windows. The weather Gods tried to predict where the storm was going but they weren’t having much luck. To most Floridians looking at the picture of the storm on the box, it looked like it had covered most of Florida.
Granny sighed loudly. She continued…
She thought the Floridians knew, but kept trusting in the box. That’s what it must have been for sure because by now, the man on the box was showing people a green blob over the state. Outside the window was a different story though.
Granny sounded very matter of fact. Children, those weather Gods equipment had failed them and they didn’t even know it. The pressure in that storm was so intense it busted the machines. Right off the bat.
Pop! – Granny made a loud popping noise. The kids jumped a little.
Granny lowered her voice real low… This was very bad children. The Floridians had not checked their old pressure and rain gauges. They relied on the weather Gods and this particular storm would be the first of its kind. Even the weather Gods had not seen anything like this. Ever.
The Floridians were hunkered down when their roofs began to blow off. People, pets, everything was pulled out and thrown about. Tornadoes spun wild and free across front lawns and shopping malls alike. Huge explosions crashed throughout the night as the people’s power boxes blew up from the storm. Fires started and were put out as quickly by the rain.
It was bad kids. The worst they had ever seen and it went on for days. Three or four to be exact. Not a building was left standing from Miami to Jacksonville.
One of the kids whistled. They had long ago memorized an old map Granny had painted from her visions. They knew the odd L shaped country well.
Granny looked at the ground and shook her head. So many people were lost in that first storm.
The children grew uncomfortable and started to whisper and mess around. Granny raised her head and looked at them strangely.
Y’all remember the oil accident? The kids nodded and said yes here and there. Well that never did get cleaned up right and the storm washed a whole bunch of the stuff over everything. That was bad… Everything was slimy brown…
When it was all over a person who had survived couldn’t get out without a boat. All the roads were gone and the storm had caused the rivers of North Florida to swell turning the country into an island. Many were lost…
The few people who were left would become islanders. Die hard Floridians who would never leave. Cut off from the rest of the world as the storms kept coming and slowly eating the island away from them.
Small as it got they say that it never disappeared entirely.
The children sucked in their breaths at the thought of this magical place possibly still existing…
Granny smiled. Yes, somewhere out there, where all the lands have drifted here and there… It’s still there, and maybe… There are some Floridians left as well… The old woman winked at them and joked that they would definitely need a boat. Their eyes lit up with the possibility of actually finding it someday…