Friday, December 8, 2017

Another season another state ... and more

In the last 4 months I tried several times to start writing a post, but there were too many interruptions.  My choice for a heading photo kept changing.  I had decided on a photo of the solar eclipse in Tennessee, then fall foliage on our street in Nashville, then finally decided to post a snow scene I took today in Georgia - anothere state, and another season for sure.  My good camera is in Nashville, but luckily my Nikon D40 is still here so I could take the photos below.

I also looked out from each window: from the windows in the backyard where a little bird was taking shelter on the window screen, from the front yard waching the vehicles moving slowly along, and from the window I can see behind my computer. (Click on collage to enlarge.)

In July I had been staying in Brentwood, TN, at our daughter's house, during my post knee operation therapy.  My last therapy session was on Sepember 7, 2017.  I needed to have these sessions finished so I could drive back to Georgia to keep clearing our house there.  I had not driven anywhere since early July.  I read that Brentwood, TN, had been ranked the 5th best small city in the US out of 1,200 cities with a population between 25,000 and 10,000 people, but I saw little of it (Nashville ranks no. 13 out of the country's 100 largest metropolitan areas.)  Lots of people converged to Nashville from many states and from out of the country to see the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017.  Our eldest daughter, who lives in Pittsburgh, PA, came down with her husband to view the eclipse.   This was a Total Solar Eclipse - see its path in the pics below.

A total eclipse is quite rare.  This was the first total solar eclipse to sweep across the United States in 99 years.  Most cities on the path of this eclipse organized activities around this unique event - Nashville, being the largest city on its path, assembled creative ways to entice people to come to the city, to the museums, parks, restaurants, cafes and more.  Almost 500,000 visitors came to Nashville and hundreds of millions of people watched from other places.

Armed with our special eclipse glasses we drove the 11 miles from Brentwood to Nashville shortly before the eclipse.  We thought the freeway would be jammed but it was almost empty, the streets too.  The sun was bright with few clouds around.  No other people were on our street - they had gathered at the park nearby.  Our group kept looking up, but I could not stand too long and sat on a rock by the front of the house.  There was a pretty Rose of Sharon shrub near me I had not seen before.

We stayed in our house driveway and waited.  First I saw what is called "shadow bands."  Seconds before the eclipse totality thin wavy lines appeared on the ground - ephemeral and rapidly moving as you can see from my pictures below.

Then it started to get darker.  The birds stopped singing, the street lights came on, and it became cooler and very quiet - a bit eerie.  It was not pitch dark, just a strange weird darkness.  I tried to take pictures with a couple of cameras, through my cell phone, my iPad and my eclipse glasses but they did not come out too sharp.  It was a very special moment, and then it was over.

Just a few days later, on August 25, 2017, Major Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast and the city of Houston.  It stalled over the area for several days producing devastating and catastrophic flooding.  Some areas received more than 40 inches of rain in less than 48 hours, some up to 51 inches (1m30.)  Houston is a boom town of approximately 2 million people and spreading over 600 square miles (1,600 sq km.)  Over 40 people were killed, 100,000 homes were damaged and 500,000 vehicles waterlogged by flood waters - resulting in $190 billion in damages.  (Pictures courtesy CNBC.)

The images on television were terrible but my husband did not understand them, because of his progessing Alzheimer's disease.  By profession he had been an environmental planner and river planner.  I remember well how, years ago, maybe in the 1980s, he had told me that Houston was the example given as a city waiting for a major flooding catastrophe.  He told me it was not "if it happens" but "when" because he said that the city of Houston let developers build on massive flood plains and wetlands.  They refuse to institute any type of land use plan.  I wanted to tell him - "look, you were right, see what happened to Houston" but his eyes were vacant.  More deaths and property damages are caused by flooding than by tornadoes or hurricanes.  Lack of development control and sprawl contribute to flooding, but Houston is happy to proclaim that it is free of any control.  However, when a major disaster hits, they expect Federal Aid (meaning US tax payers) to come and pay for the damages (and they do...)  This will not change then.  In 1845 the Berlin Academy of Sciences sent geologist Carl Ferdinand von Roemer (1818-1891) to evaluate the mineral assets of Texas.  Roemer, called now the Father of Texas, said at the time that the Brazos River prairie close to the Houston area was an "endless swamp."  He did not feel it would be a good place to build a city... (below map from NYT and photo of Ferdinan von Roemer.)

I had planned to write extensively about Houston explosive population and lack of local control, but before I could there was another major disaster called Hurricane Irma.  Starting on August 30, 2017, Irma hit the Caribbean, producing winds up to 185 mph.  Ten trillion gallon of water of rain fell on Florida.  Irma was expecting to hit the state of Georgia by Septembert 10, and metro Atlanta by Monday 11.  I had finished my knee therapy the previous Friday and decided to drive from Tennessee to Georgia that Sunday, against the opinion of my family who thought it was dangerous - I just wanted to be home in case a tree fell on the house.  I thought there would be a lot of traffic on the freeway going south, but it was very light - the freeway going north was jammed.  It felt strange driving down the highway with hardly any cars but many first responder trucks.  There were convoys of ambulances, energy crew trucks, some coming as far as Michigan and Indiana - all driving south to offer help.

I had brought flash lights, batteries, water and some food with me, but in West Cobb County where our house is located it just rained.  Other towns of Georgia, including the Atlanta area, suffered damages.  (Pictures courtesy the Atlanta Journal Constitution.)

Before returning to Nashville in September, I called the Smith Gilbert Gardens (I have written posts on it several times, look under "gardens" on the side of my blog) to offer them my beautiful philodendron.  It is about 20 years old and too large for me to move to Nashville.  I knew it would die in our backyard during the winter and was not sure what to do with it.  I was so pleased when a young man from the gardens came to pick it up.

Looking through my pictures since July and giving information about them would make this post much too long.  I tried to drive back to Georgia from Tennessee at least once a month and stay ten days to keep sorting, giving away and moving items, but it is going very slowly.  In October, by coincidence, I came back on the Sunday of the Chalkfest festival on the Marietta Square.  I went and took many pictures of the artwork on the asphalt and I'll show them in a future post.  In November when I came back to Georgia I found a bag with color prints I had taken in 1993 on a trip to Morocco, Paris and London.  I had not seen these photos since then (I'll show some of them in a future post, too.)  Then I drove from Nashville to Georgia again this past Monday, December 4th.  That day was very sunny and warm - 70 degrees F (21C.)  The weather changed quickly since today, three days later, we are having a snow storm.  I don't remember seeing snow here so early in the season.  It is very pretty.

As I write this, at 4:30 pm on Friday 8 December, it is still snowing.  It started this morning before 7:30 am and it has not stopped.  You can see from the bird feeder that there must be 3 inches of snow, at least.  The shrubbery is bent under the weight.

The electricity has been erratic, coming on and off all afternoon.  While the electricity was out I went back outside to take more pictures.  It is not often that we have that much snow here; we had none in early 2017 and just one day in early 2016, a very light snow.  I like the look of the brown pine tree trunks against the white snow.

Addendum Saturday morning December 9, 2017 - It must have snowed all night because at 8:30 am when I went out the accumulation on the bird bath looked like 10 to 12 inches high.

 I took some pictures, then as I was donwloading them I saw that the sun had come out; everything looked so bright through my window behind the computer.

I bundled up again and went out to take more pictures.  The snow is melting now but it is quite beautiful indeed and I can't stopped looking at this winter wonderland, so unusual here in Georgia.

Second Addendum: Saturday afternoon.  I just could not stay in the house and clean up when the sun and snow looked so tempting outdoors.  I fetched my Canadian fur hat and my down coat, which I had not moved to Nashville yet, took my cane and went for a walk with my old camera.  I'll place the photos in order in the collage below so you can go on the walk with me.  Please click on the collage twice to see well.  First, I took the path behind our house (you can see the back of our outbuilding on the right) and walked to the lake; a tree had fallen in the lake.  Then I came back to the road and walked carefully because packs of snow were falling down from the wind and branches were on the pavement.  I passed our neighbor's house that is for sale at $1.2 million.  Then went by the little white house across the street that has a red barn and finally went up the path leading to the Kemp Farm.  (It is a road with eclectic houses, McMansions near tiny houses then a farm.)  I saw no one else on the road but cars passed me; two even stopped asking if I needed a ride.
3rd Addendum (last one):  Monday December 11, 2017, 12 noon.  I drove around in the neighborhood and saw many branches and trees down; snow is melting but there is still much left.  The news on TV said that our area, West Cobb County, had been one of the worst hit by the snow storm.  Our road even made the news too yesterday with around 100 trees down (it's a long road.)  This morning at around 8:00 am the snow was still thick on top our cars and the bird bath.  The sun was coming up so I took a photo of our back yard with my cell phone.  Then later I played with it to make the photo more attractive.  I think our little old barn looks seasonal for the holidays, don't you think?

 I do not know if I'll be able to write another post before Christmas.  I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and Joyous Holidays.

Anyway you celebrate them, enjoy yourself and be happy!

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