2017 — The Year That Was

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

People tend to become a bit reflective as a year begins to draw to a close, and that’s no exception inside the four walls of the Port Isabel – South Padre Press offices. So, what can I say about 2017? A lot happened this year. Some good, some bad. And some somewhere in between.

Of course, there’s been the steady beat of the humdrum which can make the days and weeks slip past in a blur of the familiar and mundane: local government meetings, local elections, community events, recurring deadlines to meet, the cacophony of the 24-hour news cycle, rush hour traffic, 100-degree summer days, 90 degree winter days, and so much more.

But there have also been more than a few things this past year which make time stand still for a moment, like that scene in The Matrix where the audience first sees Trinity facing a group of agents. Just as she hovers in the air, poised to deliver a powerful kick, the camera pans around her, allowing the audience an impossible view of every angle of the tableau.

One of the first things that comes to mind for me was this year’s Kemp’s ridley sea turtle nesting season. Things got started quickly, with the earliest nest on record to be found thus far. Ultimately, this year also saw the most nests ever found on the Island. And I got to be there on World Sea Turtle Day to witness 200 hatchlings make their way to the sea for the first time. That moment, with the rising sun painting the sky in rosy and golden tones as the hatchlings propelled themselves towards the glistening water, is etched indelibly in my mind.

But then there were less pleasant moments, like in late August when we all watched local weather forecasts nervously as a hurricane of previously unbelievable proportions began to form out in the Gulf of Mexico. For several long days, everything about the storm was vexing for forecasters, from how strong it would ultimately be when it made landfall, to precisely where it would do so.

We here in the Laguna Madre region were within its crosshairs for a while, until it veered north of us. Once that happened, all we could do was watch in mute horror as Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on almost all 367 miles of Texas coastline save our little corner.

But, in tragedy, one will often find hope. And that was true here, as well. Within days, locals banded together to create relief drives, gathering supplies, boats, high clearance vehicles and volunteers to help our brothers and sisters to the north.

Then, just earlier this month, as we all settled in for a typical weeknight, another weather-related phenomenon was making headlines — the possibility of snow. And sure enough, on a Friday morning bright with cold, snowflakes blanketed the entire Rio Grande Valley, from Star County to Laguna Vista. It was a pre-Christmas miracle where, again, time seemed to stand still. Everyone paused to enjoy it, and people both young and old got a chance to reconnect, however briefly, with their inner childlike sense of wonder. It was amazing.

2017 just got here. Or at least, that how it feels to me. And already, we are bidding it farewell. It’s been one heck of an interesting year, but I’m ready to greet 2018. Happy new year, readers!

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