Late Summer Reflections

By E. Adam Porter

Editor, News of SCC & South County

A famous pirate troubadour from Mississippi croons through the sound system down the hall, There’s something in the wind tonight, some kind of change in the weather… I sit back in my office chair and think, Jimmy’s definitely not talking about Florida. We’ll be hot and humid well into October. Now I’m tuned in, though, listening to one of Buffett’s deep tracks, “Savannah Fare You Well,” written by prolific pop and country songwriter, Hugh Prestwood. 

A Texas native, Prestwood has written songs for James Taylor, Trisha Yearwood, Alison Krauss, Jimmy Buffett, and Crystal Gayle, among other very famous names. The opening lyrics of “Savannah” describing changes in the weather may not reflect the meteorological reality in Florida as summer turns to fall, but the imagery in the song, delivered with pensive authenticity by Buffett, still plucks my heartstrings.  

In a vision I had yesterday
It rained so hard that I drowned
While I waited for a hurricane to die down

Now, that sounds more like Florida. Every year, from June to November, we all watch storms cruise through the tropics on the news, waiting for our favorite weather forecaster to use words like “strengthen” and “rotation” and “turn,” terms that, for native Floridians and long-time residents, trigger an early warning system that sends us out to buy water and fill up the gas tanks in our cars. This season, thankfully, has been relatively mild. We’ve had a few named storms, but nothing like those that have brought the big wind and heavy rains of previous years. Hopefully, I didn’t jinx us, and that trend will continue. We certainly have enough to worry about without another storm coming this way. 

Down the hall, Jimmy is still strumming and humming, delivering lines from the song that many people think is about his daughter, Savannah Jane, but is really Prestwood’s ode to ol’ Savannah-town. If you’ve been there, perhaps you can commiserate with Hugh’s longing for that signature city with its idyllic parks, oak-shaded streets, cobbled lanes lined with palm trees, and camera-ready antebellum architecture. If not, you can probably still identify with the imagery Prestwood uses to describe the turmoil in his heart created by his love for the town and his need to leave, to get back on the road and earn a living. 

It’s easy to feel that tug, that longing for better days and new adventures over the horizon, especially these days. The constant firehose of calamity and tragedy on TV and the radio, the pandemic, school issues, foreign wars… Spend too much time immersed in that, and we forget the good times, beautiful relationships, and worthwhile endeavors available to us. Or, maybe that’s just me, but it sure feels like I’m not alone in this. 

Prestwood touches on the delicate, transitory nature of those beautiful opportunities in the song. He defines the spell cast by genuine moments of happiness as a “fragile magic,” describing the golden threads of hope and love and joy as “frail as spider webs.”

It’s a poignant image, and, for me, it brings to mind a moment yesterday when I stopped to examine an elaborate spider web woven between two trees at the top of my driveway. The orb weaver had wrought her fragile magic into a series of concentric, adjacent, and descending layers of web. The gossamer strands captured the late-morning light, creating a prism that flowed across the circular webs. For a moment, I was mesmerized by the beauty and the artistry of the web… and then I laughed, thinking about how my reaction would have been wholly different had I stumbled into it while mowing the lawn. Instead of contemplation and appreciation of the elegant beauty, there would be fussin’ and cussin’ and impromptu karate, as I worked to tear that web away from myself. 

Still chuckling as I imagined myself dancing awkwardly but enthusiastically across the lawn, desperately trying to shed an imaginary spider web, I walked up the steps and into the house, thinking about how the difference between appreciation and revulsion are often a matter of timing and perspective.

What we see around us every day could be a calamity or an opportunity, depending on where we’re standing.

That’s a tough one for me right now, given everything happening around us. But I’m working on it, trying to create moments of fragile magic, or at least take a moment to enjoy them when they find me.

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