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©John R. Turner

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Out and About with Word and Image of Vermont

Hurricane Charley
I'm in Bowling Green, Florida, visiting till the end of October. About half the houses here are covered with blue plastic sheets, while their inhabitants wait for contractors to repair or replace their roofs. And the contractors are so backed up they won't get to some of them for months. Hurricane Charley came right up U.S. 17 from Punta Gorda as though it were following a road map. The little towns it passed through on the way -- Arcadia, Zolfo, Wauchula -- are not what most Americans have in mind when they think of Florida. There's nothing
grandiose about any of them and there's certainly nothing fancy at all about Bowling Green. Sixty years ago they were far more flourishing than they are now, with active business districts and bustling sidewalks crowded on Saturdays when farm families came to town to do the week's shopping. Now they lie
somnolent, waiting to be devoured by the monster of development as it creeps inward from the coast. Life here is quiet and, even now in late October, people avoid being out in the mid-day heat, which in most sections of the country would be considered sweltering. The residents can't easily afford the destruction Charley dropped down on their heads. But, they're making do, helping one another to clear away the piles of broken and uprooted trees that clogged most yards right after the storm. It's an old-fashioned way of life that, probably, will have disappeared in twenty years. And maybe it's just as well. But, there are features of the passing that are well worth regret.