Storm

A weatherman predicts “the storm of the decade.” From drought to this—change. I shovel sand on a vulnerable pathway. I carry deadwood from the forest for firewood and picture the warm hearth that will happen.

Following deer trails through our land to the farmer’s fence, pushed low, where hoof tracks stop and continue on the other side, I see hills rise up from the field dark and wet. The creek has not yet flooded. Mother Nature, here in valley canyon I know, doesn’t regard human concerns for property, or for comfort. I place tools into the shed.

I have listened to what culture prescribes—education, work, marriage, motherhood–and as wind blows harder and harder on my face, the unknown rushes close. Has my life prepared me? By night, will hurricane gales from the north reach us?

OaksinRainstormMy blood also becomes wind. My hearing drowns in a sea of sound. Another large limb has broken along the path; this feels like potential for a kind of fear that brings one to fast action. I look at the 4-wheel-drive SUV parked in our driveway.

Clouds darken, moving across the sky like fast ships, and I return to the house strangely content. Sunlight bursts into the courtyard. I see through the screen door another quick shine of light before it disappears. Change. The law of impermanence.

The pull of life on earth is strong. From a sense of something sublime to a world of trivia, I pick up the cordless phone and order winter accessories with my 25% December discount. Soon this device will not be working.

After dinner, the monster storm arrives. I gather candles and lanterns. T. checks on the outbuildings. He comes running back. “I need your help; the blue tarp is about to blow like a balloon. Get your coat.” He sounds excited as wind whips through the open slider.

We hurry towards the area where the old tack barn used to be, next to two large pine trees. I hold a flashlight that requires constant pressure from my thumb. T. unravels rope. He ties things down. Just then the wind gathers more fury so I don’t hear a large limb cracking. T. yells, “Run!” We run. Loud crashing sounds collide behind us.

When we stop, the wind has died down. I see branches everywhere like a huge twisted dead creature. We return to the house thankful for candlelight. We listen to music on the iPad as T. plays with his smart phone. Modern life has not left us altogether.

The next day, we gather more firewood from windfall. T. uses up the batteries of 3 saws. I carry armfuls of wood to the fireplace. In between we feed a wild turkey, who suddenly appears looking lost and confused. Two more storms are expected to find us next week. In the meantime, our fireplace flames leap. Burning wood compacts down, crackling. I read, rest.

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