A Song for the Situation


From Sabine to Chauvin, from NOLA to Pascagoula to Apalachicola, the watches are going up and the warnings will come. Even Gulf Coast residents well outside the current cones of uncertainty are uneasy; they know that tropical systems aren’t to be trusted, and it’s time to prepare.

It will take time for the tracks of Marco and Laura to be firmed up, but it’s clear that something’s lurking.  In the marinas, docklines are being doubled, and extra fenders hung. Gas lines are a little longer. In the local cafés and at the boat ramps, uncertainties stemming from this latest oddity — two hurricanes in the Gulf in one week? — are being endlessly discussed.

Amid it all, the unofficial anthem of hurricane season has re-emerged. There’s something comforting about Jimmy Buffett’s classic tale of preparation and resignation in the face of a storm, particularly if the shutters are hung, the boat’s secured, and the beer’s still cold. A few of you know the lyrics by heart. If the song is new to you, enjoy.

Comments always are welcome.

A Pair of Palafoxes

Rosy palafox (Palafoxia rosea) ~ Brazoria County, Texas

History connects Pensacola, Florida with a small group of lovely flowers scattered across the southern United States, including Texas. Both the genus — Palafoxia — and Palafox Street, the boulevard that lies at the heart of Pensacola’s colonial town, are named after General José de Palafox y Melzi, a Spanish nobleman and military hero.

The connection is understandable, since Pensacola is the site of the nation’s oldest European settlement.

Spanish explorer Tristán de Luna sailed into what we know as Pensacola Bay in August of 1559, charged by Spain’s viceroy of Mexico, Luis de Velasco, with establishing a settlement there.  

Luna arrived in Pensacola six years before Admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés reached Florida’s Atlantic Coast and founded St. Augustine, generally regarded as the oldest city in the United States. Had it not been for a hurricane, Pensacola might have held on to that honor, but as the Smithsonian points out, only the Menéndez colony endured:

On September 19, 1559, only weeks after he dropped anchor, a powerful hurricane blew in from across the bay, sinking all but three of Luna’s ships.
Luna dispatched a remaining ship to Veracruz, Mexico, in hopes of enlisting rescuers. For more than a year, the settlers hung on, their numbers and stores dwindling. At last, some vessels arrived to transport survivors to safe haven in Havana. By spring of 1561, only a military outpost remained; in August, its handful of soldiers abandoned the site and returned to Mexico.
It would be 1698 before Spain established another garrison in Pensacola.
Reverchon’s palafox (Palafoxia reverchonii) ~ Hardin County, Texas

Whether those earliest Spanish explorers noticed Florida’s coastal plain palafox (P. integrifolia)  or its endemic relative (P. feayi) is hard to say. But eventually the flowers did get noticed and named.

By the 1800s, botanical exploration was common, and Julien Reverchon, a French botanist who collected in Texas during the late 1800s, was honored by having his name attached to one of our state’s several species.

 

Comments always are welcome.
To see yet another Texas Palafox species, visit Steve Schwartzman’s Portraits of Wildflowers, here.