Archive for the tag 'mickie whitley'

READER SUBMISSION: Mickie Burbella Whitley, an East 15th Street resident and North Carolina-native, passed by this derelict motor boat in the Bay. The sight brought back memories of Hurricane Irene and, 10 years earlier, Hurricane Floyd – during which she made her drive up from North Carolina to Brooklyn. Here, she shares her experiences of the two hurricanes, and of the long, dangerous drive up the coast with a hurricane bearing down in her rear view mirror.

Out and about this morning, I noticed the marina’s new trash-art piece is still on display: a derelict shell of a motor boat, full of trash and whatnot, bumping against the Holocaust Park sea wall near the corner of Emmons.  Now I suppose this observation would be appropriate to a “More Trash in the Bay”-type article, but instead it reminded me of last August and Hurricane Irene… and Irene brings back bittersweet memories of Floyd.

We are two months into what has been a mild hurricane season here in the Bay. Until Irene put Brooklyn into a panic late August 2011, it had been a full 12 years since this part of the world even remembered that hurricanes weren’t just something that happened to other states.

But I grew up in hurricane country and making note of the season is in my blood. In fact, my family lives in the small coastal town (that no one had ever heard of nor remembers now) on which Hurricane Irene first landed. When she got to the Bay, I felt like someone from down home had come visitin’.

I always change my water on the first of June.  For those who don’t immediately recall, the first day of June is opening day of hurricane season for the east coast. This is when my household schedule is set to changing out stored utility water, checking all battery and bulb supplies for the flashlights, reviewing the expiration dates on set aside canned and dried goods, putting up extra ice and making sure the stock of candles, oil and matches is still fat and happy. And yes, I make sure I have a stack of duct tape around… not that I would ever use it on my windows.

Hurricanes engender an awe of respect.  Floyd and Irene, in particular, because they, of all the recent storms, have been able to make New York City pause in its tracks and pay attention.

I celebrate my moving to the Bay during hurricane season. Hurricane Dennis hijacked one moving date and two weeks later, Hurricane Floyd personally escorted me up the coast in 1999.

My respect for the strength of a ‘cane has been solidified by former recklessness.

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Photo by Elaine L.

The following story – an unexpected delight! – landed in my inbox this morning from Mickie Whitley, a 13-year resident of Sheepshead Bay. “This neighborhood is one of those which has a very tangible natural presence and I find the juxtaposition of this in New York City to be fascinating,” she wrote to us. Then she attached the following story, which we’re happy to share with you.

When I was a child, there was a saying grown-ups used whenever bored children would whine on rainy days: April Showers bring May Flowers. Now it’s May and the jonquils and tulips on Emmons are entering retirement, so what else does a spring rain bring? Fog.

I love the marina in the early mornings. Pre-dawn is when the neighborhood wears its quietest and most contemplative personality. This morning it was the call of the boats that drew me outside. That long, low tone of the fog horn is one of the most haunting and romanticized sounds in the memories and literature of this wayfaring country. Whether by ocean, lake or river, few in America have lived never having heard this plaintive call which both mourns the past and forges the future with one beautiful, paradoxical note… and there’s nothing America loves better than a good paradox.

The air this morning is magnificently quiet. Half a block away, I can hear water dripping from the leaves in the Holocaust Memorial Park and startling still slumbering sparrows. Like the Irish Hunger Memorial in Manhattan, some of the city’s most beautiful and rejuvenating quiet places are built in remembrance of some of the ugliest and debilitating actions of our human selves – another wonderful paradox. The rumble of a truck bounces high off the apartment buildings as The Daily News makes its appointed rounds. One of my most cherished memories of living in Brooklyn, which may seem quaintly old-fashioned in this technological age, is seeing and hearing the news literally hitting the streets.

Keep reading Whitley’s excellent musings.