If you’ve been following the adventures of Beach Beggin’ on our Facebook page, you have probably seen numerous photos from our farmer’s markets and other Lowcountry locations. These scenes often include blue skies, tropical flora, and a killer water view. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve found yourself marveling at just how lovely the weather is here!
Sure, we’ve had some rainy days, hot days, and our share of afternoon thunderstorms. But these are expected. And as I work outside in a “portable office”, I have prepared myself fairly well for market-affecting conditions. Rain? I have a high-quality tent with a durable, waterproof canopy, as well as rainproof plastic bins for safe product storage. Wind? I have weights that secure my modestly sized tent. Heat? I have a rechargeable generator and portable fans. Thunderstorms? I have an efficient and organized process of disassembly at the first sign of threat.
But one simply cannot prepare for Mother Nature coming off her meds and coming completely unglued. And in these last few days of August, not even our local weather people could predict which way her mood would swing from one hour to the next. It began with a hurricane on a path directed towards us. When Hurricane Erika, an obvious fan of the Lowcountry, refused to cooperate and instead dissipated in the Atlantic, Mother Nature began to improvise.
Forecasters predicted an afternoon of periodic light-to-moderate rain and 5mph wind for our area last Thursday. This being a non-weather event, all of our usual vendors began setting up and preparing for the weekly Bluffton Farmer’s Market. Skies were gray, as expected, and the anticipated light rain began shortly after I arrived.
Tent up and no breeze, I opted to forego the weights and focused on setting up my tables. The rain picked up a few minutes later, and some early market goers took cover under erected tents. With each new minute, the rain began to fall harder….and harder….and faster! The vendor next to me ran to my tent, both of us trying to discern how this unexpected deluge would affect the market. How long will this last? What does the radar show? Will this close the market? Do we wait it out? And then we heard thunder, followed by a gusty cold wind and the sound of her metal tent legs scraping the pavement as it slid several inches. She ran back in a flash to grab it, while other vendors too struggled to hang on to their tents.
With wind gusts ever-increasing, I began to make my way around the tent, hanging on to the side-frames while lowering each leg to decrease updraft. Once lowered, I stood under the center frame, arms extended over my head and hanging on to keep it stable. In front of me were my prettily set tables of freshly baked treats. If I let go to store everything in plastic bins, the tent could fly away. I had no choice but to stand there, hang on, and hope the storm passed quickly. That is, until Mother Nature provided a plan “B”. In a mighty wind that should only be associated with a formally named storm, my tent was yanked up and out of my hands and sent sailing like a dime store umbrella. It landed upside down several feet from me. And I was left standing soaked in the street, barely able to keep my eyes open in the pummeling rain.
At that point, everyone kicked into high gear. It was time to get out of there! With assistance from a fellow vendor I was able to get the tent and my belongings packed and stowed in just a few minutes. I then in turn helped out the vendor next to me to get her vehicle loaded. The scene was frantic chaos with a touch of insanity and fear, but we all made it out safely.
Today Ma Nature seems to have returned to her prescription plan and is in better spirits. Just in time for the Labor Day weekend, when loads of visitors will arrive to blue skies, tropical flora, and a killer water view. And if they’re anything like me, they will find themselves marveling at just how lovely the weather is here.