This past summer we (my wife, son and his girlfriend), spent most of two weeks wandering through Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee (very brief), Mississippi and Louisiana. Hurricane Isaac made it’s way through a portion of our trip’s route, most impactfully through the Mississippi and Louisiana portions of the trip. I will start with some thoughts about the three days we spent in Biloxi, MS.

In 2008 Kathy and I drove the coastal road front the Gulf in Biloxi, Gulfport, Long Beach, Christian and Bay St. Louis. The devastation from Hurricane Katrina, August 29, 2005, was abundant and still fresh. Life moves on and the resilient spirit of the people is amazing. We passed through and encountered a Mardi Gras parade, people laughing, celebrating and moving forward – with piles of Katrina debris a few blocks behind them.

Summer of 2012, the empty beach lots across the highway from the Gulf of Mexico waters is a grim reminder of the past. I am also amazed that these empty lots are not totally empty. These lots are home to massive, gnarled and stately oaks that seem to reflect on the human spirit of the region. I would like to share with you the strength of the people embodied in these wonderful oak trees.

The gnarly oak again – I can only imagine what wonderful bowls could be turned from the knotty burls on this tree! It can wait!

Swinging on the long horizontal branch.

Gnarly oak….Joe and Leah standing in the crotch of the tree.

The ring in the oak – an old Indian legend is tied to this tree…

Life goes on in the Gulf, the trees survive, the people thrive and the cycle continues.

An oak shading a rebuilt guest house at the site of the Jefferson Davis house.

Looking east from the Jefferson Davis house – a large oak and the lonely chimney that remains standing after Katrina.

The flag pole bent over from Hurricane Camille – 1969 – one of the most powerful hurricanes to make landfall in the US. A grim reminder of life on the Gulf.

A tribute to the strength of the people and the oaks that reflect that strength, our thoughts and prayers are with you.