This week we have been watching the progress of Hurricane Irene and praying for friends and loved ones on the east coast of North America.
In our corner of the Northwoods we had our own storm the first of July. It wasn’t a tornado—all the trees fell from west to east—but there were a lot of them. We lost seventeen on our lakeside property. Some of our neighbors lost many more. In some places acres of forest have had to be completely cleared because of a tangle that reminded me of the game of Pick Up Sticks we played when I was a kid.
A few garages were damaged; a handful of decks; but surprisingly few houses. And yet a house can be rebuilt. It will take a generation to replace the trees.
Some trees fell because they were rotten in the center even though they looked healthy on the outside. Others were simply overwhelmed by the force of the wind. Saplings bent to the ground under the weight of fallen giants. Even now that the weight has been removed, the saplings bow in wide arches, unable to raise their leaves from the ground. Some we have pulled back and tied in upright positions; some we have left, wondering if they will rise next spring; and a few, too badly damaged, we have cut.
Our road was completely blocked that night in eight different places, some for distances of fifty yards or more. My two-year-old grandson was fascinated by the cherry-pickers that got through next day to cut the branches from our electric wires. It was very difficult for him to understand why the remote whose buttons he loves to push didn’t produce anything on the television.
Even now the storm is the biggest conversation starter. “So how many trees did you lose?” The woman where I got my hair cut this week had the best attitude. “We lost thirty big oaks, but you know, there are all sorts of little trees that I never noticed before. Now they’ll have the sunlight they need to grow.”
A lot of our spare time goes into cleaning up. We hired someone to cut down the half-fallen trees that hung in precarious positions. (There is no unemployment in our county these days for anyone with a will to work.) We have hauled many trailers full of broken branches to be turned into mulch behind the township hall. Most afternoons my husband goes out with pruners and cuts up the fine stuff. He fills a wheelbarrow or two and hauls it down to the beach. He makes a fire in the fire pit, and I bring glasses of ice tea. We sit and watch the flames and the sunlight on the water. (Great way to recover from a heart attack.) When the grandkids were here, we roasted marshmallows and made s’mores. (The heart patient refrained.)
The other day as I was hauling brush out to the road to make it easier to pick up with the trailer, I noticed one of the cut off popples had sprouted new leaves around the fresh wound. They are young and green as spring even though fall is already in the air here. It seemed to me there ought to be a lesson there—God brings new life out of devastation. Later that evening from the kitchen window, I saw a deer grazing in just that area.
“That would mess up my analogy, wouldn’t it?” I told myself. But the deer DID NOT eat the new leaves!
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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