Monday, May 29, 2006

Isaac's Storm and Remembering Memorial Day

It is so warm and humid today, very unusual for a Northeastern Wisconsin Memorial Day. Usually we sit on Main Street waiting for the parade to start with umbrellas over our heads and trying not to shiver from the cold. Today we actually had to move from the east side of the street to the west to keep out of the sun. Mia really enjoyed the parade; she's just reached the perfect age. She gets excited every time she sees a flag, waves at everyone she sees (whether they throw candy or not), and thinks that watching the people go by is the point. In another couple of years, she'll realize that the candy is the point and ignore the floats without it, including all of the flags. That will be a shame. I'm glad that I live in small town America where we all stand and applaud when the veterans march by. There are other parts of the country where that wouldn't happen, and that's a shame too. Today Mia wore a red and blue dress covered in white stars and was proud to match the flag. As an adult if she did that, she'd be targeted as a *gasp* patriot, or maybe even a fascist.

Isaac's Storm by Erik Larsen is a compelling read. It's the story of the events leading up to the 1900 hurricane that devastated Galveston, Texas. The time was so different. Today we're starting to see the results of our indiscriminate destruction of the environment in the melting of the polar caps and global warming. In 1900, meteorologists were of the belief that someday they would be able to control the weather, stop hail, start rain, there was nothing they couldn't do. And they hoarded their responsibility and priviledge from any who might disagree. Into this political climate blew a storm that would change not only an entire city, but National Weather Bureau, but especially the people who lived through it. Larsen does an excellent job of building the timeline by focusing on just a few people to tell the tragedy. Occasionally he uses the tired technique of ending a chapter on a cliffhanger to heighten and maintain interest. It's not necessary; the story is powerful enough with cheesy literary devices. My only other complaint about the book is the lack of photographs. While it sounds gruesome, pictures of the city before and after the hurricane would help heighten the story. The Isaac in the title is Isaac Cline, head of the National Weather Bureau at the time who ignored the signs of the city's impending doom and suffered for it personally in many ways. This is a horrible story that still holds lessons for us today.

I should be reading Angela Hunt's Brothers, the second in the trilogy about Joseph, but I think instead I'm going to read Randy Singer's Dying Declaration. I'm still reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and Through a Painted Desert by Donald Miller for my devotionals. I should finish Lewis next week. That book is absolutely amazing; it blows my mind that I've never read anything by him before. I'm going to take a break from the heat! I'm praying for more rain!