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Darrell Huckaby - 04/08/09

OK. Who teed off Mother Nature this time?

It's Spring Break, y'all. I'm at Jekyll Island. I can almost see Florida from my pop-up camper. It's supposed to be warm for goodness sake! I am supposed to be wearing shorts and a T-shirt and admiring the azaleas and Wild Cherokee Rose blossoms while bicycling under the Live Oak trees. We're supposed to be sunning ourselves on Driftwood Beach and maybe even wading in the ocean. The campfire at night is supposed to be for ambiance only and the only thing we are supposed to have to worry about while we feast on fresh Georgia shrimp in our campsite each evening is the no-see-ums that have built up an immunity to Avon Skin-So-Soft.

That's what we are supposed to be doing. Now let me paint you the real picture.

Sunday afternoon it came up a bad cloud. We could see it forming across the same marsh that had provided a brilliant sunset just 21 hours earlier. The clouds grew dark and the wind got up and the Spanish moss started waving back and forth like the Jolly Rogers probably waved on the pirate ships that navigated the waters surrounding this island three centuries ago.

We are not without modern electronic conveniences down here, you know. We could watch the weather come in on our iPhones. My daddy would roll over in his grave if he knew I could get color weather radar and watch a storm approach on a telephone that I can keep in my pocket. We also have cable television in our camper - yes, we are really roughing it - and a tornado watch was issued, along with a severe thunderstorm warning.

We didn't get the tornado, but the storm that swept over us was Class A. For about an hour-and-a-half it rained as hard as I can remember it raining. Some of our party got caught in the bathhouse for 30 minutes or so. I thought about my childhood preacher, Harold Lyda, who was caught in a typhoon in the Philippines during World War II. He told me that he lashed himself to his cot and slept through the whole thing. I didn't lash myself to my cot during the great Jekyll Island thunderstorm of '09, but I did take a nap - while so much water collected on my camper awning that it collapsed the support pole.

Not that I have much room to complain, understand. We only had our fish fry rained out. Other areas in the region had flooding and school was even canceled in a few counties because the roads were submerged. I know the kids hated that. Another day off a week after their own Spring Break.

So the heavy rain was Sunday. Monday the winds came. When I say winds, I don't mean a gentle breeze. It was a gale - 25 mph hour sustained winds with 40 mph gusts. The hawk was definitely out. (If you're not familiar with that expression, find someone from New Jersey to talk to. They'll tell you all about it.)

The winds started at noon and didn't let up. We do cook fish in the wind, by the way, but the burner on our fryer blew out at least 50 times while we were doing so. I ain't making this up. It really did.

And all night long the wind blew and the temperature dipped into the high 30s. Now you need to understand, my teenage daughter, Jenna, and her friend, Morgan, were sleeping in a tent, basically on the ground - and they were pretty perturbed that they weren't in Panama City with their friends in the first place. You can imagine the looks I received from Jenna when she crawled out of that tent Tuesday morning and discovered that the temperature was 37 degrees. Plus, she had turned from 16 to 17 overnight. I don't know many girls who would relish turning 17 while camping amid sand gnats in freezing weather - and rest assured, there is one fewer of those girls than I had hoped there would be when we began this tradition 30 years ago.

And the worst is yet to come. The high temperature Tuesday was supposed to have been around the 50-degree mark - with the sustained winds hanging around to bring the wind chill factor into play. The low Tuesday night? Possibly 29.

Yes, that's with a "2". Since when has the temperature dropped into the 20s in April on Jekyll Island, Ga.? Since never, that's when. A record low temperature - for the entire month!

Oh, well. "The best-laid plans of mice and men..." and all of that. I am sure we will find a suitable alternative to bike riding and cooking outside. That's the good news. The bad news is that the alternative is certain to involve a shopping mall and several cash registers going "ca-shing, ca-shing."

But fear not. The weather is supposed to warm back into the 70s by Friday - just in time for us to pack up and come home.

Isn't life grand? Barack Obama has only been president three months and he has already solved the global warming problem.

Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.