August 29th, 2015 marks the tenth anniversary of one of the most powerful storms to hit the United States in recorded history.
I keep a vintage watch in my desk drawer, and every once in a while I look at it and run my fingers over the filigreed rectangular links and etched engravings, and in a certain light I can see the marcasites and onyx chips surrounding its face. The watch reminds me of the pretty art deco watch my mother had in her jewelry box for as long as I can remember.
This watch has been tarnished by waves and burnished by sand, shorn of its hands and stem, raised numbers, still bright, not quite ground from the muddied, glassless face.
I found it while we were walking on the beach along the coast of Waveland, Mississippi a year or so after the storm, half hidden, buried all those months until some summer wave carried it to the surface.
I know its owner only by the initials ALA, and I keep wondering where ALA is now, if she is still alive, and if she ever mourned the loss of her watch, and I am sorry I cannot return it. Somehow I can’t let go of it.
We were here along with other gardeners from North Carolina and Virginia to help with restoring damaged landscapes. As we spoke with survivors I heard so many haunting stories that had to be told. I did some delving. One post became four. Parts I and II tell of the storm and its immediate devastation; Parts III and IV follow up a year later.
This series is a testament to the quiet courage of people making new lives out of broken bricks and stolen roofs.
The Invisible Coastline: Part I Setting the Stage
The Invisible Coastline: Part II The Inexorable Surge
The Invisible Coastline: Part III Our Impressions, November 2006
The Invisible Coastline: Part IV Good Works and the Artful Dodge