For this issue, I had planned to write about A Lowcountry Heart, the wondrous new collection of essays by the late Pat Conroy. (After almost six months, that phrase still looks outrageous to me in print. “The late Pat Conroy.” Every fiber of my being resists that sequence of words.)

This compilation of never-before-published letters, speeches, journal entries and blog musings is making its debut this weekend at the inaugural Pat Conroy Literary Festival here in Beaufort, and it seemed like a natural column topic.

But then came Matthew. And our escape to Alabama. And the neighbor’s giant water oak that crash-landed in our backyard, taking our shed and our deck and a corner of our roof down with it . Oh, how the earth must have trembled when it fell. How the sound must have split the air, even in the roar of that furious storm. How glad I am we weren’t here to feel the thud in our bones. Had that moss-bearded behemoth landed a few feet from where it did, our little house in Pigeon Point would now be history. Had we decided to stay instead of go, one (or more) of us might be history, too.

I have lots of friends who did stay. Riders on the storm. What can I say? I gravitate toward ornery rebels. I’m not sure whose Matthew Experience was more harrowing – theirs or mine.

Read the rest at Lowcountry Weekly.