After a major hurricane, it can take years for an island to recover. In this series, we look at the ways Irma has changed St. Martin, how the island recovers and how it impacts us.
Even in this modern world, living in the Caribbean means being close to nature. We spend time outdoors in the wind and sun. The beach is our backyard and our summer never ends.
A hurricane brings us closer to nature in many ways, both big and small. The storm itself was the immense power of nature brought to life. It taught us how small we are, and how vulnerable.
The aftermath brought nature to us and us into nature. Windows that were shut for years to keep in the air conditioning were flung open. Insects and other animals crossed freely between their homes and ours. Moths, beetles and bees were everywhere, perhaps as disoriented as we were.
The storm pushed us into nature. We headed out to clear zinc and branches, to prune trees and shrubs. Once hidden, the animals around us were suddenly out in the open. Birds and iguanas perched on bare branches and headless palm trunks.
As days turned into weeks, the dull brown hills began to explode into green. Grasses were quick to sprout again from their roots. Battered skeleton trees began to sprout new leaves. Flowers began to bloom. Day by day, in the colors of life are returning.
Though we are busy rebuilding homes, businesses and lives, we have an eye on nature and it gives us strength. To watch the color of the hills and the sea return to normal reminds us that life on St. Martin will go on. All of the island’s native plants and animals are hurricane survivors. If they weren’t, they would have been gone long ago. And if nature can find a way to grow again, so can we.