Winter Weather: a swinging solstice

The last day of fall went out quickly, having been swept away by an eager winter storm.  Yes, Winter blew in early with four inches of rain, and by noon  she had begun a swift and frigid blowing.  She howled around the eaves, worked her way into the house through invisible cracks and then came in through the windowsill sounding for all the world like a flute!


That will need fixing!

The lights began to flicker, and hearing all this horrible blowing pick up in speed, I decided to stop what I was doing and go have a look.  Opening the back door I felt Winter’s frigid breath blow right past me.   Too cold!


Standing in the doorway with my sweater pulled tightly round my neck,  I listened as dry leaves hissed and tree branches rattled like dry bones.    Eerie, I thought, and shivering I closed the door tight.


This morning it is 32 degrees and while the wind isn’t quite as bad as yesterday it is unrelenting.  It is also making the air outside feel like it’s in the 20s!   Winter and I don’t get along.

The cold, the short and cloudy days all get to me.


Yes,  it is officially winter, but I have decided to greet it differently this year, to be more upbeat!  I think this might help.

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.


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.


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


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…


An Event to be Reckoned With: severe weather

We woke up at 4:30 AM to the NOAA weather radio’s alarm.  The first wave hits our area.  As per usual, we came through nerves frayed, but OK.  The schools have closed their doors for the day.

The sun is shining now at 10:00 AM and the wind is picking up.  The second wave is on its way and the Governor has declared a “State of Emergency” for the whole state of Alabama.

The alarm goes off again.  It is 11:20, and although it is not on us I still feel the pit of my stomach tighten.   The storm has really picked up speed and it is on Athens doorstep and the sky is darkening here in Hazel Green.

I watch the lines of the storms moving across the map on television, and think of the armies marching on Minas Tirith.  It is overwhelming to me.  I think I should turn off the television and just go clean house or sew on my quilt, but I don’t.  The television’s constant conversations, and maps are my friend for the moment.

I eat another cookie.

I see my cat Claus run by the dining room window and he has something wriggling in his mouth.  He heads for the park.  Jumping up I go out, following his path to see what he’s captured.  It is the baby Robin I had been photographing this very morning when the first wave had subsided.  He appears to be fine and in spite of nearly having become a meal himself, he turns to me and opens his beak chirping for a meal!  I take him back to the tree and try to imagine how to get him back up there!  The ladder will take too long and his parents are dive bombing me while I stand there.  Finally I run to the barn and grab the broom.  I tell him, “Hold on baby, its a bumpy ride from here!”

I put him on the broom, lift him up to the closest branches and cheer him on… will he hop off the broom and onto the branch?  He does!  His parents swoop to the tree and continue to scold me.  As I walk away I wonder if it was a futile attempt with the next storms on the way.

In the time it took me to write this the alarm has gone off two more times, the reporters are confirming tornadoes, and the siren is going off outside.  That last cookie is doing somersaults in my stomach…

Bob calls and says he’s coming home.  We hang up.  The newsman is telling me that the wall cloud has produced a funnel cloud where Bob is.  I call him back and he says he’s seeking shelter as we speak.

I am numb.

Our power is cutting in and out.  I think I may go to my neighbors for shelter.

The phone rings, I answer it, the power goes out.  I look out the window, the wind is pushing the rain horizontal, and it has become very dark.

Earlier in the day I had prepared myself a cubby in the pantry.  I go there now and sit in the dark. When it gets quiet the weather radio comes back on and tells me the storm has moved on to somewhere else.

The only sound I hear is Bob’s battery backup beeping.  It reminds me of the hospital.   I crawl out of hiding and turn it off.

I call Bob and he is fine.  I venture out to check the chickens, Polly and her babies, and find them unharmed.

So now I wait for the third wave.  The newsman has warned us that the third squall line is going to be a wicked one.  At this point I am scared spitless, and can’t even imagine worse that what we’ve already had but I take it seriously and prepare myself as best I can.  Suddenly I feel very tired.  I have no idea what it will be like, but I am emotionally spent.  It is said that ignorance is bliss, but at this moment I would disagree. In spite of my terror I lay down on the couch to rest.  The little dog whines and I let him get up to lie next to me.  Laying there we are a comfort to each other… we fall asleep.

Buddy barks to signal that Bob is home.  I feel such a sense of relief to not be facing this emergency without him.  He goes out and starts the generator so that we can have the television news to help us understand the storm system that is terrifying us.

Between the hours of 3:30 and about 6:30 we would enter the pantry many times and pull the dog’s mattress up over us.  We had no idea each time we went in to shelter ourselves if we would make it or not.  We knew it was bad, we heard it on the news, and we would have no conception of the devastation all around us until the morning light.

This morning we know that all of North Alabama is without power.  We are pretty sure that the worst devastation was produced by EF 4 (winds of 190 mph) and EF 5 (over 200 mph!) Tornadoes.   It breaks my heart to see it; I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to live through it.

Today we run the generator in spells to keep the food from thawing and to get a bit of news at the same time.  When not listening to news we are in the yard cleaning up the debris left from the horrible winds we got here.

I rake up tar paper, and a bit of wall board.  It was part of someone’s home.  It makes me cry.

I find a bit of white paper on the ground.  I pick it up and  the shape of it is eerily familiar… it was an envelope from a card,  hand addressed to a family on Highway 194, in Russellville.  I look up the address on my NUVI and find that it is 82 miles away from our home.   Again I find myself tearing up.  I wonder if they are OK.  Did they make it through?

Perhaps you will not understand, but I am resolved that when the power is restored, the roads are cleared and the dusk to dawn curfew is lifted, that I will have to go find this family.  I have to know that they made it.  A tattered bit of their life has traveled by storm, fallen from the sky, and landed in my life.  I feel a connection.  I have to know…

It is beyond comprehension that nature can tear apart so many lives, take so many lives, leave some with nothing at all, and yet leave their neighbor unscathed.   Yet, here we are.  We are inconvenienced by a lack of electricity but can’t complain.  We have so much to be grateful  for and we praise God that we are here and our home was untouched.

And we pray for those who have experienced loss.  I ask for your prayers for them too.  It will take a long time to rebuild, and even longer to heal.

Tattered Life via Storm Mail


Addendum:  4/29/11 This posting of Wednesday’s event here in Alabama is being sent out from Tennessee as we still have no power and may not have till next week.  A very few areas have regained some power, but most efforts for restoration are on hospitals, pharmacies, gas stations water pumping stations and some grocery stores.  All these essentials are being brought up and online via generators.

Due to the severe circumstances many are shining and coming through for those in need in ways that are simply heroic.  Yet, we got news this morning that in spite of the curfews there are malcontents who have begun looting.  I do not understand the mentality of this kind person.


NOTE:  If you are interested in seeing the magnitude and sheer force of the tornadoes that hit Alabama you may go to Youtube and simply type in “Alabama tornado April 27, 2011.”  There are many who braved the situation to record them.  They are awesome, powerful and frightening.