Posted by: floridanature | October 10, 2008

Floating Pumpkins & Herman Hesse

The monkeys were flying through the sky last night.

Just like they were in the ‘Wizard of Oz’. Except this time, the monkeys were the storm that blew through northern Seminole county for a couple of hours.

Okay, from the beginning.

I was doing a book signing at Maya Books & Music in downtown Sanford.

I had walked down there from my house, a nice 25 minute hike. Old historic neighborhood, brick streets, canopy of trees and so on.

Was looking forward to the signing and to seeing Yvette, who remains at once the most literate and also one of the most attractive women I’ve ever met. Always cool to chat with her.

Had all my books outside on a table, bookmarks in a neat little pile, big ol’ poster of a book cover nearby. Looking good.

Then comes one of those amazing Florida moments: The sky bursts and pours great sheets of water down on us.

Random citizens on the street retreat under the canopies over the storefronts. Such as the one where I have my table o’ books. Lots of warm bodies, soggy and confused.

More rain. More thunder, and then great flashes from the sky. Big swoops of air picking up tents and tables in the street and tossing them about. Large crashes and all sorts of unexpected sounds. Books on my table getting wet from the horizontal rain. It seems as if the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz might be nearby, preparing to take flight.

Finally, the downtown street (First Street) of Sanford floods. And I walk out beyond the canopy and look west —at what amounts to ‘upstream’—and see a pumpkin floating at a good clip down the middle of First Street. In a three knot current.

Then, several balloons pop, all at once, and the soggy bystanders jump. Next door, the German restaurant has an ompa band playing, and despite the oddness of the weather, folks are streaming in to the restaurant. Out of nowhere, the German band begins to play a John Denver song. West Virginia, country road. And so on.

A very nice woman tourist with a German accent stops by my soggy table and chats a bit about literature and Herman Hesse and other stuff. She leaves, and the sky again changes color, as if it is preparing to settle down for good.

A couple from the ‘hood come by; incredibly good folks and it is so nice to see them.

Then, Yvette comes out of her store with two cold adult beverages and sits next to me at my table. And the sky splitzers us with just a drizzle. And the pumpkin drifts… away. No real book sales, but a spectacular series of events that are embedded now in memory.

Yep. This is natural Florida, where the energy of forces beyond our understanding and control intervene every once in a while to let us know for sure who’s in charge.  Which is another reason to  love the place where I live…



  1. You hit the nail on the head, and so often that force of nature is hydrologic in Florida. Down here in the Big Cypress Swamp, water has peaked up in the “pine islands,” … normally the only dry ground in town. No amount of pumping or gate openings can change that simple fact. That’s when nature takes control.

  2. Sounds like a perfectly summer to fall day in Florida but you didn’t mention that eventually the sun came out and everyone went back to the beach.
    Florida native here and big fan of Yvette’s, proud to have been mistaken for her when we worked together at Manadla Books.
    I miss Florida and Mmme Comeaux.

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