Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Horrifying Beauty

I've been updating this spot on a sporadic basis since the weather got interesting and the camps got complicated. So, if you're a Wednesday morning regular there's a few words between last Wednesday and today so you'll have to keep scrolling down for all the news. The latest news from Pearlington is they had a huge tent donated but it's so big and heavy that they've been offered ten National Guardsmen to help them put it up. Sounds a lot more sturdy than our little corrugated plastic tents.

I can report that tomorrow there is a team of people going to the Texas coast to evaluated things from the ground. The unofficial word is that they should be able to get camps up and running by January. This sounds like a long time to wait but there is a tremendous logistics ballet going on in the background. They have to figure out not only the finances and housing but where to most efficiently position the camps so you can send volunteers to the most houses from the fewest camp locations. Send money. Now.

Things are calming down here in New Orleans. The "season" has opened and we've had a great group of 12 people from two states, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. We've had a designated cook and for good reason. She's good. We had both banana pudding and lemon meringue pie for dessert tonight, both made from scratch. This was after a pecan pie last night. I think I've died and gone to heaven.

The weather has even gotten more pleasant. We've had a spell of less than excruciatingly hot and humid days. So I spent my morning hunting for a phenomena that has haunted me since one of my first trips, I guess it was spring of 2006 or maybe 2007. I'm hazy on the timeline. I couldn't believe my eyes so I kept asking around but no one else had seen it. Every time I found myself on the Interstate 10 above the city I craned my neck and focused my gaze on the houses below but I still couldn't find it again.

Until last week. When I finally saw it I marked it on the GPS and went back to get my camera. A few days later I returned only to find the house had been bulldozed overnight. So today after driving all over town I finally got a picture to prove I'm not crazy.
In the time between Katrina and my first sighting, the neglect of abandoned homes had allowed vines to grow up the sides of some houses. Then the vines covered the roofs and thickened into a solid blanket of green. Then, spring arrived and the vines blossomed into bright yellow flowers. The houses looked like a bright yellow blanket had been gently laid over the resting houses.
It was so beautiful I couldn't believe it. And the idea of neglect this thorough, of abandoment so stark, was horrifying. Part of me wants to get more pictures in spring when the vines blossom again. And part of me hopes that each dangerously empty house with vines covering it will be bulldozed by spring. How can something so beautiful come from something so horrible?
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