Speaking of Shakespeare (as we were here recently), I had a major Shakespeare “moment” three weeks ago when a plot element from my most recent novel worked its awful insidious way into my own life.
The Devil, the Diva and the Deep Blue Sea features the devil more or less incarnate in the form of a retired Florida dermatologist. Yes. It does, really. Perversely, however, (the devil is known for that stuff, you know, perversity), he does a lot of good whilst trying his damnedest to do bad. Well, at a critical point in the action, he dispatches a beastly engine of doom to “Hades” by means of positioning it over a—watch out!!! —Florida sinkhole which conveniently caves in under the pressure at a most convenient moment.
Now I’ve had my own up close and personal sinkhole experiences aplenty, enough to last a lifetime, thank you very much, here in the Sunshine State. In fact, experiences to the tune of two freaking years of repairs on my home, repairs which cost the insurance company more than $200K in 2004-2005. Yep. It was horrible.
BUT after all of that I had assumed this place was now tantamount to the Rock of Gibraltar. Thirty-two steel cylinder piers filled with concrete support the exterior walls. They are bolted to the foundation and driven into lime rock at depths of 69-72 feet. Concrete/rebar reinforced cells were also inserted into the exterior walls at three feet intervals all the way around the house.
One would think it would take a tsunami—or more—to challenge my humble home place so bolstered, reinforced and fortified on a small Northwest Florida farm.
Not so, as I learned a few weeks ago to my most bitter chagrin. The lime rock the piers rest on is now eroding, the floors in the house are thus sinking, the walls and ceilings are cracking and doorframes and window frames are popping out with much greater speed than in the first incidence of this “natural disaster.”
Hamlet in the play to which he lends his name holds forth on the goal of “art,” speaking, it seems, for Shakespeare himself: He says the purpose of art “was and is, to hold as ’twere the mirror up to nature: to show virtue her feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.”
Hells bells! I had no idea I’d be dealing with a horrid sinkhole situation yet again when I wrote that scene in my novel less than a year ago. I did indeed treat of the depredations agriculture and human development have made on the Florida Aquifer and explained how it has stressed the very ground under our feet and homes—and the situation grows worse every day (as the national and local news reports every day clearly in its multiple sinkhole horror stories). Sinkholes are not one-off deals, they are not rare anymore in Florida and they are becoming a greater menacing presence in the lives of all Floridians with every passing day.
We have only our own greedy plunder of the land and its water resources to blame. The bounteous Florida Aquifer runs the length of the state and percolates the clearest sweetest spring water through porous lime rock that serves as a sort of natural aqueduct or conveyance for the best water in the world. We have pumped out billions of gallons for development and agriculture recklessly from this gift of the gods and without any reference or nod to the natural drought/flood cycles that stress it already. So perhaps we deserve this hellish situation. Look for many more hair-raising sinkhole stories from this region, for all the experts say they are coming.
Anyway, enough of that. Woe is me. Who’da thunk I’d be sunk once more and would have weirdly alluded to it in “fiction” several months ago without a clue at the time that sort of thing was coming my way again in short order? Not me, that’s who.
Prescient? Woo-woo. I’m not going there. But I may have to go somewhere soon, as in out of here—I’ll try to keep you posted.