5 min read

IV: Amaryllis

A quick story about a stuck ship.
A startling amaryllis bloom. Photo by Ross Domke / Unsplash
A startling amaryllis bloom. Photo by Ross Domke / Unsplash

Good morning. Today is quartidi, the 24th of Vendémiaire, Year CCXXXI. We celebrate l'amaryllis, a winter stunner.

Botany fight! There's the bloody red amaryllis you typically find in stores around the holidays, but it's been banished from the scientific amaryllis family. That flower, as of 1987 called the Hippeastrum (horse star), is tropical and originated in South America, while the true Amaryllis belladonna is native to South Africa. To the untrained eye, though, both provide the same dramatic, ornamental bloom.

Hurricane Betsy was no joke in 1965. Crossing the Bahamas to brush across the tip of the Floridian peninsula before scooping up the Gulf of Mexico to hit New Orleans directly and breach the levees like another storm would 40 years later, Betsy was the first hurricane to cause $1 billion of damage in the United States.

Palm Beach was northerly enough to escape the main wrath of the storm, but there was another kind of havoc wreaked. A 411-foot, 10,400-ton cargo ship had its route flummoxed by Betsy and ran aground on Singer Island, parking her massive bulkhead right next to the dining patio of the Rutledge Hotel. And that's how the long stay of the Amaryllis began.

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