Sammy & Hurricane Charlie By Larry Whittler August 13, 2004 |
It was Monday August 9, 2004 and we have been living in a Tampa RV Park for almost a year, it’s the rainy season and the frogs are chirping. The weather stations have been talking about a hurricane approaching Cuba for a while and it was possible that it might go up the west coast of Florida. Tampa has been missing the bullet for years but we were due to get hit at some point.
Tuesday August 10, 7 AM: My wife and I are early risers, our morning routine is to set on the patio and have coffee next to our picnic table. This morning we had a guest; it was a large tree frog…… Now there is nothing unusual about a tree frog in Florida except that they are nocturnal and normally hide during the day, this one was right out in the open next to the grill we had on the table. He didn’t have any fear of us; he didn’t seek any type of shelter no matter how close we came. At first we thought maybe he was ill and would be gone by tomorrow.
Wednesday August 11, 7 AM: The news on the hurricane path has been updated to include the west coast of Florida, and it looked like it was heading directly for Tampa Bay. This morning we are having coffee as usual and our new found friend is still with us. We decided to name him Sammy because that covered both sexes (Samuel or Samantha). Sammy was really friendly; he would jump on your hand or arm and then allow you to return him back to the table. My wife and I started kidding each other as to which deceased relative had come back to watch over us during this time of possible disaster. We didn’t agree as to who it was, but had a little chuckle bantering back and forth whether it was her Grandfather or my Mother.
Thursday August 12, 7 AM: We are starting to look forward to having coffee with Sammy. My wife was already asking me if we could keep him. Sammy became the focus of conversation that morning. Today they were dead serious about the path of Charlie, it was coming directly to the Tampa Bay Area, and the word was out a category 3, with a storm surge of 16 feet. It was coming and the word was going out to evacuate the area and in particular RV and Mobil Home Parks. We began preparing the RV for our departure, rolling the awning up which exposed our picnic table, Sammy didn’t move, we carefully picked him up and place him in the wheel well were it was protected. He stayed perched there while we prepared everything including turning the picnic table upside down on the grass in front of our car. We were heading for my daughters in Land O Lakes. We departed around 7 PM, Sammy watched as we pulled away.
Friday August 13: 7 AM: We were up early waiting for the storm to hit, it was coming and nothing was going to stop Charlie. We had decided that the best protection would be in the hall with mattresses over us to protect us from falling debris. We were getting reports of the power and water being turned off as the storm approached areas on the west coast as it headed for Tampa. Slowly information started coming in that Charlie had turned and was battering the coast below us, but it was still possible that it was going to hit Tampa Bay but not as a category 3. Charlie was now spawning tornadoes all around central Florida, Unfortunately it was pounding areas that had not been evacuated and people were not given anytime to prepare. We missed the bullet, but stayed the night anyway.
Saturday August 14, 10 AM: We had breakfast and watched the news as it unfolded. After seeing what it had done to RV’s and Mobil Home’s we realized we would have lost everything, millions of people were without power or water, it was a terrible disaster, thank goodness Florida had learned a lesson with Andrew, help was on the way.
With our family safe it was time to head home and survey the damage. There was very little damage to the RV Park. We pulled in next to our RV, everything looked just as we had left it … it was at this moment that my wife and I spotted Sammy setting on top of one the legs of the picnic table, broad day light, eyeball to eyeball. We walk over to him, picked him up, and placed him back on the wheel well. He stayed until the evening watching, as if he wanted to make sure everything was alright.
Sunday August 15, 7 AM: We proceeded to have coffee on the patio as usual; of course we were hoping that Sammy was there. We looked on the table and under the table and all around the motor home no sign of Sammy. We have had many discussions about why Sammy came or who sent Sammy to watch over us. In any event Thank you, Sammy will always be remembered.
This was not the first time Mother Nature has sent ambassadors... Every time there was unusual circumstances... In the year 2000 I was living in Brandon, Florida, my neighbor and I shared a pond together, it was loaded with fish, Ospreys and the occasional Otter, we even had a peacock that would drop by... After dinner it started rain hard, I really liked to open the sliding glass doors in the Florida room...they led out to a screened in porch, directly across from the glass doors was a screen door that led out to the back yard... My mind was wondering, it crossed my mind that I had never seen a bull frog on the pond, in just moments I heard something banging against the screen door, I opened the door, it was still raining hard, I looked but couldn't see anything, then I looked down, there was a bull frog the size of dinner plate, I reached down and picked it up, there was no resistance what so ever... The pond was on the other side of the house, I carried the frog to the pond and released it on the bank of the pond... it just look at me and didn't move, I prodded him with my finger, he finally jumped in the pond... I never saw or heard that frog again...
The most recent encounter was at the RV Park that I live in, July of 2010... I am retired and work part time (1-5)I at Sears, I usually get home around 5:30 every day, there is a electric meter waist high right in front of me when I park my car, within 8 feet of my wind shield. In mid July I came home to find a red tail Hawk perched right in (on the electric box) front of me... I sat there a moment eye ball to eye ball, enjoying the moment... The cars front bumper is only three feet away from where the Hawk is perched, its the path to my RV... I got out of the car and walked normally between the car and the Hawk, I fully expected the Hawk to fly away, I went to the door of my RV, unlocked the door,I looked over my shoulder before entering... he never moved, after entering I looked out the window, he was still there.... this happened two more times over the next week. A week later my daughter came to visit, We had dinner a Red Lobster, I related my story to her, we came back to the RV to visit... I was changing my clothes, My daughter kept calling me to the rear window of the RV, she was really excited, there on a picnic table was the Hawk... I said would you like to meet him, we went out side, walked within a few feet, the Hawk was not alarmed... This was an experience my daughter or I will never forget.... Never saw the Hawk again.... September 2012, I have been sick for two weeks, I keep a glass of water on the bathroom sink at night, I woke up in the middle of the night to find a tree frog perched on the side of the glass, carefully I took the glass and walked to the door, opened it a and released the frog. October 2012, A good friend of 50 years died, last night, I woke up to get a drink, yep there was a tree frog, I didn't remove the little guy, this morning he was perched in plain sight on the electrical outlet above the sink, I shaved and did my normal routine, he is still there.... that dog hunts
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