'F' as in Frank

Starting a new year

Yesterday, Aug. 22, marked the first anniversary of my employment with the Daily Sun News.

That's a milestone, to be sure, but lately my mind has been focusing on Aug. 20.

It's a day Joni and I can't help but remember as it is Hungary's national day. Named after Hungary's King Istvan (Stephen in English), it is something like a July 4 celebration complete with fireworks.

When we lived in Budapest we could hear the boom of the fireworks from the nearby Danube River and would join the crowds along the river bank or on a bridge to get a better look at the fireworks.

The blue Danube would become a literal, living watercolor, reflecting the brilliant splashes of colors in the sky.

So as I got ready for this week, and my first anniversary here, I paused briefly on Sunday, Aug. 20, to think of our Hungarian friends.

Those thoughts turned to prayers on Monday when Joni called to tell me a 75 mph wind storm hit Budapest Sunday night just as the throngs gathered to watch the fireworks.

It was the worst possible timing.

In a country where everyone is within a two-or three-hour bus ride from Budapest, the city swells with an influx of citizens from around Hungary each Aug. 20.

Trees were blown down on some of those on hand for the fireworks. That, and the panic which resulted, killed three people and injured more than 200.

As Joni relayed the info to me I was amazed at the precise timing of the wind. Some people we talked to wondered why the government held the fireworks show at all, since there must have surely been a weather forecast available.

Then again, we've experienced first-hand how a beautiful day in Hungary can suddenly go south with an outburst of torrential rain and hail, temporarily spoiling a picnic or flooding the streets. It just goes with the territory in Central Europe.

Yet, I've never heard of a storm there taking such a human toll as the one which struck Aug. 20.

It's the kind of thing that makes you appreciate the consistency of our summer climate here.

The summers-as well as the pleasant spring and fall weather-are things I've certainly enjoyed as I start my second year here.


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