October 4, 2022

From Gerald R. Lucas

Hurricane Ian Aftermath

There are houses behind this row of downed trees.

Today, Kip and I ventured south toward his house in Placida. We headed south after breakfast, bellies full of farmhouse bowls. Generally, after leaving Sarasota, the closer we got to Placida, the worse the damage was; I pictured Ian as a toddler leaving a path of destruction as he stumbled northeast—uprooted trees, overturned structures, detritus, and general signs of disarray that will likely be evident for some time. As we headed south, growing squads of workers dealt with infrastructure, like worker ants rebuilding their footprinted home from the oblivious Ian. All of this contrasted with the gorgeous day as we convertibled further into the giant’s path of destruction.

Fortunately, Kip’s house was spared severe damage: some uprooted trees and a smashed pool cage were really about it. Of course, all services were out, but we saw FPL trucks working just up the road on our way in. In some areas, Kip’s quaint Florida neighborhood was unrecognizable, like in the photo here. This long street is one I would run down everyday on my visits, enjoying the shade that the banyan trees provided. Most of these are now gone, and every house seems to have some damage. I wonder how long evidence of Ian will linger?

After the trek down, we found there just wasn’t much to do. We swung by a couple of houses to see if any friends were in need of help, but no one was home, yet neighborhoods were alive with activity, each group of ants responsible for cleaning up his own allotted piece of land, some using big earthmovers while others filled wheelbarrows with downed flora. If nothing else, the signs of life all over spoke to the resiliency of life in the face of indifferent nature. After surveying some more damage, and exchanging the convertible for a minivan, we headed back to Sarasota for a relaxing evening. Of course I forgot my hat, so my skin showed the signs of a rookie tourist on his first day at the beach. Fortunately the burn was not too bad.

Karen didn’t kill me for taking a photo
Leica M8 // Ultron 2/28

Kip and I met Karen at a local Mexican place just up the road from the hotel on Tamiami Trail. The had outdoor seating, and I swear this particular restaurant used to be an Italian place back in the day. While we waited for Karen and ate some chips, I noticed a red Karmann Ghia in the parking lot, so I took a few photos. I don’t see many of these anymore, but I’ll always associate them with Florida. I owned a yellow Ghia that I too hastily purchased in the late eighties. It was a wreck, really, the bottom already half-way rusted out, but my youthful naiveté dominated most of my decisions back then, and I knew I could fix it. I couldn’t, and it ended up at a junk yard. This red one faired better.

Karen showed up minutes later, and we all had a fine time. I’ve known Karen about as long as I’ve known Kip. She was a fellow band geek, one whose instrument, the piccolo, seemed appropriately chosen to match her diminutive size. She always wore her hair short, was super-smart and no-nonsense. Her mother was my 7th-grade algebra teacher, and she had a similar attitude. Karen was unique and fun to hang out with, so she and I dated for a little while. That didn’t last long (see the last paragraph about my youthful naiveté), but we remained friends and were in touch from time to time after graduation, though I don’t think I’ve seen her in thirty years until I met her and her mom for lunch back in the spring of this year. Today, we keep in touch through Instagram, and this is the second time in 2022 that I’ve managed to see her again.

After tacos, we called it a night. More to do tomorrow.