A Silent Witness

You’ve been told about my need for perfection in other posts, but I am trying to let go of that.  So here with all its warts is my first offering.  Your comments will be cheerfully accepted and appreciated.

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A Silent Witness

The little house had stood nestled up against the oak forest for almost seventy-five years.  Families grew, children became adults, married and moved away.  The years passed and the house stood firm.  It sheltered the families there through wind, rain, and snow.  It felt proud of its years of service and imagined that it would remain standing at least another seventy-five.

It was a well-kept house.   Over the years the many owners had painted it inside and out, put up wall paper, patched cracking plaster, reshingled the roof when it leaked, added proper plumbing and tore down the old outhouse.  The windows shone, as did the floors, never a cobweb in the corners, or dust on the sills, it was neat as a pin inside.  As well, the porches were swept,  geraniums planted and then placed to advantage as a welcome to visitors.  The ladies who had come and gone over the years made sure of that.

And so it was year in and year out.

The house was waiting in anticipation of the spring, for then the occupants would seemingly awake from their hibernation of winter, and thus would begin the bustle of deep cleaning.   Opening the windows wide they let in fresh air to dispel the staleness.   It  loved to feel the breezes come in and refresh its rooms.  From basement to attic the small house breathed in the perfume of spring.   Soon would begin the planting and tending of the vegetable garden out back, and flowers set to grace the way to the front porch.  The warm days of summer would follow, with sun and heat to dry out its timbers deep into the bones of its structure.

However, something happened to change everything.

The day had begun as usual, sun up, birds singing, people busy about their tasks to start the day.  Idyllic.   A gentle breeze that had been blowing all morning gradually picked up force and turned into a gale, but the house paid no notice.   Winds had come and gone many times, and nothing came of it.  To be sure, there had been some storms that took a roof tile or two, or a tree branch that came down and put out a window, but those were trifles and nothing the occupants couldn’t fix.

However, today was different, and the house could feel it in the anxious actions of its people.  They were tense and listening with care to the televised weather advisories.  As the sky darkened the family grew very quiet.  The wind picked up in speed pushing the rain sideways, and hurling giant balls of ice down out of the sky it broke several window panes.  It was then that the parents got the children together and went down into the basement. The house felt the seriousness of these events and wondered what to expect next. In all its years it had never experienced a storm so fierce.

The wind was screaming at her, and pulling on her siding.  It seemed angry, tugging as if to bring her down.  She resisted the effort.  Faster the wind came, it swirled her perimeter, stabbing her in places with poles and lumber it had scavenged along the way, dislodging roof shingles, and still the she held against the fury.  Gaining strength the storm blew out her windows, then poured its rain and wrath into her.  Hearing her timbers groan it came in for the kill.  Taking a mighty last bite, it ripped an entire wall from her side and cast it to the ground.  Her timbers stood in defiance.

Gaining no satisfaction from its fury on the home the wind moved on to break trees and scour the earth.  Only then, feeling spent, did it pull itself back up into the clouds and die away.

The family had huddled in fear through the violence of the storm and now listened to make sure it was safe before climbing the stairs.  Opening the basement door they were shocked to find daylight streaming into places it should not be.  Their home had saved them, and they were grateful, but in so doing it had forfeited its dream of another seventy-five years.

After the tornado, the family gathered what they could and left.

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  The silent house remains a witness to the furry of a storm.

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NOTE:  The house was spotted by me in Tennessee this past week.  As soon as I saw it the story was begun.  I went back yesterday to get the photograph.

Since then I have picked, poked, torn apart, rewritten,

and generally over thought this piece. 

It is practice for heaven’s sake! 

Letting go now…

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One year ago today

So, I had planned something entirely different for today’s post, but somehow it paled in significance…

On this date one year ago I was hiding in fear in my pantry waiting to be transported to Heaven or deposited into the Land of Oz, depending upon whether or not I was hit by one of the 27 tornadoes that came through our state. We were so blessed to have been spared.  So many were not.

Almost 300 people were killed, and many lost their homes.  One town, Hackleburg, was simply wiped off the map.  So many stories, of terror and loss, and yet… Here we are.

We now have a shelter that some would rather we had “put out back.”   But we are landscaping the little bump in front of our bedroom window, and some day, sooner than my neighbor realizes, that little bump will just disappear into the rest of our plantings and that will be a nice view then.

We have already shared our little Hobbit hole with the neighbors and their children this past month, and although once again nothing serious happened to our little enclave, we were nonetheless grateful to feel safe down under the ground.

I have lived for many years in fear of what if.

  • what if the house burned down
  • what if someone broke in and took all the good stuff (It has happened to us twice in California, BTW)
  • What if we had “The Big ONE,” and the house just fell apart and we didn’t have earthquake insurance to cover it. (California again!)
  • What if we lost all our lovely antiques, passed down through Bob’s family and/or collected by us over the years, what then?  They could never be replaced!
  • What if we went into the Hobbit Hole and came out and our little enclave was wiped out?  Gone!  All our things blown away in the wind and the Munchkins in Oz lay claim to them?

What if it did happen just that way?  (Pick one)   Well, then I would have to say,

“So what?”

The people here in the Bible Belt have so much faith, resolve, and determination.  No matter how bad it was, they picked themselves up, dusted off, and then went next door to see if someone needed their help.  Now, some are still in need, but the job is getting done, homes are being rebuilt, and lives are going on.

Does having faith guarantee that you will never face loss, strife or death?  Of course not!  What it does do is give you the strength to go on, and this is big

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures:

He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul:

He leads me in the paths of righteousness

for his name’s sake

Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil: For [you God] are with me;

Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepared a table before me in the presence of my enemies (even the bad weather!)

You anoint my head with oil;

My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.

~*~

~ The 23rd Psalm, as paraphrased by me, from God’s Holy Word ~

What a powerful promise!  So now I realize that if it all burned up, or blew away, or was taken from us, then oh well.   We’d certainly start anew…

and much more simply the next time.

~*~

What do you fear?

~*~

NOTE:  I followed the link to Hackleburg’s Google Map and they have actually updated the photos from space to reflect that the center of town is GONE.  Officially, it is 75 percent gone.  An eerie thought.   My posts from last year can be found here:

Photo Friday: the aftermath

Here in farm country the roads are few and some travel the same paths they have since the early 1800s.  Granted some new ones have been added, but not too many.  Hence, no matter which road you travel you will inevitably run into tornado damage.

We try to avoid it, to not become a hindrance to the efforts to clean up and get on with life, but it is impossible, you see it everywhere.  We are being told to avoid the worst hit places and we do.  Though many do not.

The day after the storm broke with sunshine and the most brilliant blue skies.  We needed that warmth and brightness to sustain us…  it was a gift from God.

Even knowing He is with us we and our neighbors are nevertheless finding ourselves shell-shocked and depressed.  We are grateful of course to be spared the devastation of the storms, but we are deeply shaken in a way that you probably will not understand.  Though we did not suffer devastation, we are brought to an understanding of how it really was for others during the storm.  We knew it was bad, we now know that if the storm came to our home we would most likely have been taken.  We were the fortunate ones.   We spent almost a week with no electrical power, no gasoline, no groceries.   A week when we were running our generators, and trying to find out the news… find out where to go for necessities, for help…  We are trying to get back to our routines, to help those we can and to return to the “normalcy” of everyday life.

We see the pictures on television and realize there is no normal at times like this.  We fear the devastation, are grateful for not having to have suffered it, and our hearts are breaking for those who did suffer.

The wonderful news in all of this is that I found the owners of the “Storm Mail” and Mr. Garrison told me how much he appreciated that I called to check on him.  He lost a cousin who was swept away while at work on their chicken farm.  He told me his cousin “…didn’t think it was anything to worry about.”  Dale and his wife Marilyn have lost all they owned, home and business.  He said he had received several calls from people like myself who had found some of his things.  We talked for a while and he told me his story.  Before hanging up  he asked for my address.  I am so glad I called and that he and his wife are alive.

It is all so horrific, surreal, mind numbing to see.  The areas of worst devastation are blocked to all but those authorized to help and the people who live in the area.

Healing will take a while.  The reminders will be here for a very long time.

The ancient oak was possibly here when the Native Americans owned this land, It may have witnessed the first settlers, the cotton fields and slavery.  That it witnessed the Civil War, and resultant freedom of the slaves is a certainty.   It stood tall and sturdy through other storms that came and wentIt provided shade at the bend in the road and we all admired its beauty.  It grew less than one-quarter mile from our home.

No matter where you travel you will see the piles, carried or bulldozed to the sides of the streets and roads.  Everyone has a pile that is waiting to be hauled away…

A porch, its rockers, and a painted pony lay in a heap.  The destruction of the property of those effected is pushed to the curb as rubble.  Strange but true!  The power that took all of this, peeled the roof off of the barn,  leveled the garage, and pealed the brick off of the side of these people’s home…

left their bottle tree untouched.

Accompanied by a truck full of rubble, the old silo now lays in the field like a crushed soda can at the side of the road…  waiting to be carted away.

~*~

Needing a break from the sound of generators and the news on the television, we drove out and into Tennessee.  There we found that in spite of it all, the sun still came out and Spring continued to sing her song.

This pasture was filled with the sweetest scent imaginable.

~*~

You can help the victims of these storms both here in Alabama and in Mississippi by donating to the Red Cross.

~*~

An aside:  Want to know more about Bottle Trees?  What’s a Bottle Tree you ask?  Click on the link  —> HERE    You will find that Bottle Trees have an interesting tradition.