Untitled by Autumn Homer

Florida, USA

by Autumn Homer

A Florida hurricane brings destruction—and a surprise.

We were standing in the eye of the storm. My family and I walked outside to assess the damage. The skies were a blurry grey and the air was so thick it instantly clung to your skin the second you stepped outside. The wreckage wasn’t too bad so far, just a few roof shingles scattered here and there. The Royal Poinciana tree in my front yard got the worst of it. A strike of lightning had hit the enormous tree right in the middle causing the tree to split in half and left the whole trunk black and ashy. The wind started to pick up again; the storm was getting stronger and stronger with every passing second. The winds started to howl again, and the blurry gray sky quickly morphed into massive black cumulous clouds. We hurried back inside as fast as we could.

I watched from my hurricane-proof glass windows as the trees bent in unnatural ways, and my wooden fence was destroyed, one picket blown away at a time. I found it really interesting to watch this natural phenomenon take place right outside my home. Most people were prisoners in their homes with plywood nailed across their windows, not allowing any light to enter the house. Not me—with my special glass windows I was free to watch the whole thing.

The electric didn’t last long; within a few minutes we were out of power, leaving my sister and I only each other and our imaginations to keep us occupied. We played board games, videotaped each other as newscasters with a violent storm in the background, and cuddled when the thunder was loud and scary. Within a few hours the storm was over; all that was left was the damage all over the state.

My house was lucky; we lost power for about a week, but that was it. I even gained something from this hurricane that was devastating for many others. It was the day after the storm had hit; my family and I were sitting inside the house with broken air-conditioning trying to stay cool when we saw my neighbor, Ricky, squirting a hose up into the palm tree in my backyard. We had no idea what on earth he was doing, so we all walked outside into the humid air and asked him what he was doing. “Look up there, do you see the cockatiel?” Ricky asked. I gazed up at the top of the palm tree and saw a small gray and yellow bird with rosy red cheeks tilting its head down at me.

I had never seen one before, but I thought it was really cool such an exotic looking bird was in my yard, instead of the typical cardinals and blue jays. Ricky then started to shimmy up the palm tree, and in one swift motion he reached his arm out and grabbed the small cockatiel. He then started yelling profane language, because the bird kept biting him. He shimmied a little then jumped down, from quite an impressive height, with the bird still in his hand. He then walked over to me smiling and asked “Do you want a bird?” At first my mom just laughed no, still in awe at what she had just witnessed. The second my sister and I heard this, my mom didn’t really have a choice, we weren’t going to stop begging until she changed her answer. Ricky told us he had an extra cage and some food he could lend us.

So he hopped over the fence, bird still in hand, and came back with a wire bird cage. He placed the cockatiel inside, poured some food into the little plastic container and let it get situated in its new home. We named the bird Nibbles and a few weeks later we even bought him a playmate named Tipsy because she would always hang upside down. Since then we’ve had many different types of birds, from love birds to finches and parakeets. That storm was the beginning of a big addition to the family.