To be young and forget

By Steve Estes

And so, ho hum, comes and goes another tropical storm for the Florida Keys.

Isaac didn’t leave much of an impression on the old-timers around here. Most places we looked folks didn’t even go to the extreme of putting up hurricane shutters. The stores had loads of bottled water left on the shelf. The canned hams were available.

There was even charcoal remaining the day of the storm.

I’m not sure if that means we’ve all become so jaded with the storm-less seasons we’ve had for the last six years, or that there are so few old timers left that no one seems to worry if we get blown away or not.

But you could tell the rookies.

While the rest of us were stowing lightweight missiles and stocking up on beer, the rookies were coming out of the grocery with carts crammed with water, canned food, batteries and packaged snacks.

And they weren’t in a good mood.

Any storm is an inconvenience. And a bad one becomes a downright pain in the butt. You have to interrupt your normal life to batten down the hatches, put things away that you haven’t touched in years, check the trees for dead limbs and gas everything up.

You have to keep some water on hand in case a pipe breaks somewhere, and it’s always best to have the propane tank filled and on standby.

There’s no telling when a pesky sailboat will break loose somewhere and take out a power line that takes hours to fix.

And we’re no less jaded than any one else who lived here during the storm years of 2004 and 2005.

After those seasons, it takes a whale of a storm to get us excited. And we haven’t seen one of those yet. Of course, as folks are fond of saying, it only takes one good hurricane to ruin your whole year.

But this storm was a little bit different for us. In all the storms in recent memory, we had no young children in the house that we had to worry about. The grandson we just adopted hadn’t been born when Wilma came through, and sure didn’t live here. And the other grandkids who live in the area weren’t born the last time we even had to batten down the hatches.

I had forgotten how difficult it can be to keep a young kid occupied during lengthy periods of forced idleness.

Holly is much better at that sort of thing than I am. She seems to know just what to have them do and when to keep them occupied for hours at a time. Me, I give them a coloring book or a game console and tell them to have at it.

But that only lasts so long.

And because this wasn’t a storm that even registered on the “oh crap” scale, it was even harder to keep the young ones occupied.

So what Holly did was bind them up in rain jackets and give each of them a large bubble maker. There is very little that will fascinate a youngster for hours like a good bubble maker.

So there they stood, in the blustery wind and spotty rain, dipping these bubble wands into an extra large pool of dish detergent (the actual substance that makes the bubbles) and letting the gusty wind create all manner of huge bubbles.

And laughing like it was the best fun in the country. We didn’t get laughs like that from them after we took them to Orlando a few weeks back for their summer trip.

And then they discovered that bubble makers work just as well when you run through ankle-deep puddles formed by the rain, particularly when the wind is making the bubbles for you.

But wait…it gets even better when you jump into the wind with the bubble wand held high and land in the middle of the puddle.

And then it gets even better when you stand in the middle of the puddle and just jump and down with the wind whipping up beautiful bubbles. Or perhaps you run out of the puddle, kicking up brown water all over the Grampy who has to stand outside to watch you to make sure you don’t get blown away by the wind gusts or have a wayward tree branch drop on your head.

And that makes you laugh even harder.

Have I said that I have forgotten how much fun it is to have high-spirited little ones running around without a care in the world.

We could forget that we were losing hours to get the product on the street. We could forget that we were standing in the middle of one of nature’s most fearsome creations, albeit a little one. We could forget that there would be a price to play in clean up of some kind after the storm passed.

And soon we could forget that we were standing in the ankle-deep puddle with an extra bubble wand in hand, swinging it into the breeze and watching the big, beautiful bubbles float off into the gusty wind.

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