My phone has been blowing up with messages and calls from concerned friends and family members asking if we are safe from Hurricane Dorian. We are safe. We evacuated to Georgia, but are hours away from the coast here too.
We left our house on the beach in Flagler County, Florida, last Wednesday when we learned Dorian had already become a major hurricane. I wish we had stayed another day to prepare our house better and be more thoughtful about what we packed, but Dorian had not become the slow-moving beast that it is now. I’ve felt physically ill for the past few days watching what is happening in the Caribbean and seeing the storm defy models and move toward the Florida coastline. Thank goodness Flagler County invested tens of millions of dollars building a new sea wall and got the project done quickly.
We’ve set up shop at Rodney’s parents’ lake house on Lake Hartwell, which is on the border of Georgia and South Carolina (where Clemson is – and, boy, are the people here ready for some football). This place is magical to Elise. And that’s nice, because it is taking her mind off of the storm potentially damaging our home. I can’t imagine how events like this seem through the eyes of a child.
We’ve been going out on the lake, visiting a place she calls Treasure Island. Treasure Island is one of the many little islands in Lake Hartwell. We usually have it to ourselves, but as it is Labor Day, there are some families camping there.
Last year, Rodney’s parents planted a treasure map in their garden and told Elise to dig up some worms there to go fishing. She found the map and followed the directions to a treasure chest they had actually buried on Treasure Island. This involved loading everyone up in the boat and going there, hiking through the forest on the island looking for clues, and finally breaking out a shovel. She is sure to remember that adventure forever. It’s definitely her special place.
We also got Sherlock a life vest for boating trips. It is ridiculously adorable. He’s barely a year old, but loves swimming and running around on the boat. He’s honestly a little too comfortable on a boat. Even at high speeds, he tries to break lose and be at the very front. Thank goodness his life vest has a handle on top.
Elise and I have been going on a lot of nature walks in the woods here. This is some of the most beautiful territory in the United States, and it offers a lot of opportunities to put our studies of biology and ecology to good use.
My mother-in-law said that Elise looks like a miniature version of me in that picture, and it reminded me that I have a picture of myself in basically the same pose. It cracked me up. This is from my days at Baylor in Texas.
After reading Jane Goodall’s book on observing wildlife, Elise has been talking a lot about sitting in one place and observing the habits of animals there. On one of our hikes, we found this rather large den that Elise wants to stake out at night. There is no persuading her how bad of an idea that is. Be careful what ideas you put into your children’s minds, folks!
We also found a silkworm village to observe. At least observing them did not involve potentially getting eaten.
Last night, we were going through old family pictures, and came across this one of my old English Mastiff with Elise as a baby. Safest baby in the entire world in this picture! (Yes, Duke really was *that* huge.)