Tag Archives: wind

Big Wind

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I went to bed at a reasonable time last night: comfortable, drowsy and ready for sleep. The wind, gusting audibly through the trees, was at first not a problem. Like waves crashing on a beach, or birdsong, natural sounds – even when quite loud – can, in the right circumstances, be soothing.

When I didn’t fall readily asleep, though, the noise became worrisome. Were large branches going to come crashing out of my old maple trees? Would fallen trees once again take out the electricity? Then, the humming of the refrigerator joined in…and the single knock – that I’m still not used to – that indicates that my new freezer is about to go into its whiny cooling cycle…and the snoring of my big dog…and the whispery breath of my small dog…until of course I couldn’t fall asleep amidst the cacophony.

Awake, I let my mind wander to all the little worries and annoyances that wait – always – for any opening. I thought of projects waiting for my attention. I went over my Christmas gift list. I plotted out a strategy for what I wanted to accomplish today…and this week…and this month. I mulled over my finances, and revisited several ideas for supplementing my income. I worried over the general life satisfaction of each of my children…and grandchildren…and dogs.

For a while, I lay still, wondering if a stitch in my side was indicative of a major problem. Drawing from whatever medical knowledge I could muster in the middle of the night, I ruled out heart attack and stroke. I went ahead and gave myself a breast exam…since I was already laying there, and worried about my health. I did a couple leg lifts…until the little dog got annoyed…just for good measure.

Finally, I got out of bed. I folded a load of clothes, moved rugs from the washer to the dryer, and started a small load of towels. I put away the dishes I’d left to drain dry. I made a cup of Sleepy-Time tea. When that didn’t do the trick, I fried a potato. Not fried potatoes like I’d cook as a side dish; middle-of-the-night potatoes are special.

One potato, peeled and cut in half lengthwise, then sliced into “smiles,” fried in a single layer, in butter, in the cast iron pan…without turning…until they are golden brown but still “al dente.” The finished product: a not-quite-raw, hot and crisp bowl of sliced potato, slippery with butter. It’s just exactly the way we ate them as children, sneaking them from the pan before they were cooked through. I could almost imagine the swat of Mom’s hand if she caught us.

By the time I finished, I felt ready to try to go to bed again. This time, cozy and full and reminded of my childhood, the howling winds brought me to the Swiss Alps, with Heidi – which was my very first and always much-loved chapter book – and I was lulled to sleep by the sound of the big wind in the trees, and thoughts of prancing goats and mountain views.

 

Gone

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It has been a beautiful autumn here on Beaver Island. One for the record books, I think, with warm temperatures lasting well into November. Even the frost held off longer than usual, and several people remarked that they remembered “a foot of snow on the ground” by this time in other years.

The colors were outstanding. Maybe not as many reds as I’ve seen in other years, but the yellows, oh my! For one essay on a walk through the woods, I turned to Google, requesting “synonyms for yellow” as my vocabulary fell short of the brilliant colors around me. Every day, I’d think, “this must be peak color…” only to be proven wrong by the next day, and the next. I’d tell myself, “surely I have enough photographs of the colors this fall…” and then I’d chide myself for not having my camera when faced with yet another glorious landscape.

The greens turned to orange, and the yellows turned bronze as the weeks went by. The blends of colors changed, but only for the better, it seemed. As the fall winds shook leaves to the ground, it seemed to simply clarify and enhance the color that was left. A heavy rain turned the tree trunks dark, which proved a brilliant foil to the glistening leaves. Fall continued that way, longer than any of us expected, and probably longer than we deserved.

No more. A week of high winds caused our ferry boat to abort one trip, and cancel a couple others. It made us contemplative about “the winds of November” on the anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. It took down trees and power lines. And it stripped the trees of their bright colors.

I’ve saved what I could of the color, in autumn leaves pressed in the pages of books, and in one thousand photographs. The view, though, has moved into a drearier realm. I offer a sigh, for another season gone and a bleaker landscape ahead.

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Storm

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This weekend is a free weekend for fishing here in Michigan. Though some rules still apply, no fishing license is needed. The Beaver Island Wildlife Club, along with a few other sponsors, is hosting a fishing tournament Saturday and Sunday. It’s geared toward families, and there are quite a few youngsters that have been anticipating it for days.

Yesterday, the weather forecast didn’t sound good. A big storm was coming through, it said, with thunder and lightning, rain and strong winds. The hardware store was one of the sponsors, and one of the employees was a major organizer. He wasn’t working at the hardware yesterday; he was busy getting equipment ready, gathering life jackets and handling last minute details. Still, the questions came rolling in.

“What is the back up plan, if the storm comes?”

“Will the tournament be rescheduled?”

“What happens if it’s raining?”

My answer to everything was “I don’t know,” though I speculated that rescheduling might be difficult, since this is the free fishing weekend. I freely gave out telephone numbers of people better equipped to answer the questions, and sympathized with their quandary.

“Of course the kids are really looking forward to it!”

“No, certainly you wouldn’t want to be out on the water in a storm.”

“Yes, it will be a darn shame if it rains all day.”

That was it. No matter what, the weather is out of our control. Though I could honestly agree that the timing was poor, I couldn’t change a thing. Which allowed me to – completely without guilt – relish the fact that I was forced by the weather to put off mowing the back yard.

The storm came through last night just as the sun was going down. There were big booms of thunder and impressive flashes of lightning. Great big raindrops fell softly to the ground, but not for long. I found myself wishing it would continue through the night.Maybe it did. It looks quite moist out there this morning, as the sun is coming up. As for the storm, we may have seen the end of it.

I’ve Got Nothing

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On this thirteenth day of November…which just happens to be Friday the 13th, too…I have nothing to write about.

I don’t even have a current photograph, as I’ve been arriving home after dark these days. We’ve had several days of strong winds here on Beaver Island, and most of the leaves are on the ground. The photo that I’m posting was taken two years ago, sometime in November of 2013.

I may not have admitted that, if I had more to say. Having been very shy for most of my life, silences in the middle of conversations are not comfortable for me. They bring me right back to childhood, to those long, excruciating voids when I knew I should speak, but didn’t know what to say. I knew that if i opened my mouth, I’d say something terribly stupid. Even if I had something planned, not completely foolish, to contribute, I often couldn’t force myself to speak.

I’ve overcome my shyness, mostly. Still, give me much of a pregnant pause and I’ll chatter on about almost anything, just to keep the conversation going. I’ll tell more than folks want to hear. I’ll tell things that are really nobody’s business. I’ll admit to things I could have kept hidden. I’ll state right out that the photo is a sham.

Maybe I am, too, only thirteen days in to this thirty-day challenge, and already nothing to write about.

Stubbornly, I forge on.

News about my job at the hardware store is not really “subject matter,” but self-indulgent chatter. If I had a husband, he would be duty-bound to listen to the minutiae of my day…no one else should feel obligated.The same goes for updates on my little dog, details about what foods I’m preparing and/or eating, and information about how busy, stressed, tired, sleepless or sleepy I am.

Let me just tell you, anyway, that I finally finished reorganizing the light bulbs at the hardware store. Whether the customer wants compact fluorescent bulbs, the old incandescent bulbs, the new halogen bulbs, or any manner of track, flood, fan, post  or Christmas light, we will now be able to find it with a lot less trouble than before!

Hunters are arriving on the island, to prepare for opening day of rifle season. They come to the hardware for propane cylinders, raffle tickets and other odds and ends. They seem good natured and happy to be here, in spite of the wind and cold rain. That, along with normal Friday business and a run on windshield wiper blades, kept us busy all day.

Allow me to report that my little dog is just as cute and smart as can be. She knows “sit,”  “give me paw” and “stay,” and will actually demonstrate, if there’s a treat in it for her. When she does something that she thinks is really good, like bark at the road truck or number two outside, she expects a reward. If I’m not right on top of it, she’ll dart her eyes back and forth expectantly, from the treat jar to me, and back again…just trying to help me “get it right” without making me feel foolish or forgetful.

As for dinner, I made a bowl of soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. It took me forty years to learn how to make a less than “army-sized” pot of bean soup. Still, I’ve been eating it all week.

Beyond that, I am busy, stressed, tired, sleepless and sleepy, separately by turns or together in weird combinations. But mostly, I’m fine. Thanks for listening!

Mornings Like This

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Yesterday, a warm wind entertained us.

The temperatures were above normal, the strong breeze felt balmy and – I swear – it smelled like spring.

“This must be our Indian Summer,” one person after another suggested.

A day like that is a pleasure, any time of the year.

In November, it’s a gift.

Today, it’s raining.

After a night of the soundest, most uninterrupted sleep I’ve had in weeks, I woke up early.

Rosa Parks would like her walk. The little dog has made several trips outside on her own already, dashing for the shelter of the wild cherry tree, then running back in to demand her reward. The walk can wait for daylight…and at least one cup of coffee.

I woke up, as usual, with a dozen tasks playing ’round in my head that need to be done immediately. I turned on the computer before I turned on the coffeepot.

I remember, like a happy dream, what my life was like before bookkeeping became such a large part of it.

Now, with the Beacon, my life is filled with record-keeping chores. What did I have to worry about, before spreadsheets and Excel files? What joy, when the only address I had to keep track of was my own!

It is amazing to me how much time it takes to keep track of nine hundred and seventy-one subscribers. If I’m not changing addresses – and it seems that they do nothing but move! – I am updating renewal dates, changing names or altering the manner of delivery. Then there are the problems of issues that don’t reach the subscriber: I need to retrieve the address and send out another copy. Other times, issues come back to me, undelivered. That is a mystery that needs to be solved, as it results in addition postage fees. Wouldn’t you think that the list of subscribers that did not receive their Beacon would match up with the stack of returned magazines? But no.

Advertisers are a separate bookkeeping necessity. Two, in fact, as picture ads are a different database than classified ads. Billing seems complicated and difficult, but even harder is keeping them up to date. Once, a man came into the hardware to angrily admonish me for continuing to run his ad months after the property had changed hands. That was the first I’d learned of it and, though I was sorry, I have yet to identify  which exact ad is his, so I’ve been unable to remove it. Since I’m still struggling with billing, at least he hasn’t been asked to pay for it!

For Dion, the “Mailroom Specialist” who labels and sends the magazines, I need to send a check to cover postage and his small fee, then convert my updated subscriber spreadsheet into two Excel files: one for first class, the other for standard delivery. I also need to find time to talk to him about the issues that aren’t making it to the recipient, and the ones that are coming back to me. And, I’ve received a few calls because – though the payments are up-to-date – the labels say the subscription expired last year. What’s going on with that?

These are the thoughts and worries and many unfinished tasks that interrupt my sleep and drive me out of bed before dawn.

This morning, to be greeted by darkness and rain.

Mornings like this, I wrap myself in the fleecy bathrobe. I pour coffee into my favorite little cup: thin rim, sturdy round handle, decorated with a pattern of blackberries. I add real cream (well, real “half and half”) rather than 2% milk. I give Rosa Parks a chewy biscuit that will keep her busy for a while. I thank all the forces in play for the rain, that contributed to my good night’s sleep.

And all is right with the world.

Copper

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Last week there were reds and yellows in the woods, standing out against burnished shades of gold and occasional greens.

Several days of strong wind did not diminish the display.

Rather, as some of the leaves dropped, the sun was able to shine through the branches, making the leaves that still clung to them more radiant in the glow.

This week, after several cold nights and more wind accompanied by heavy rain, all the colors have gone brown.

We’re in copper season now!

There was a dusting of icy snow on my car when I left for work yesterday morning, a winter-like chill in the air when I walked the dogs in the evening. The wind is howling now.

I’m collecting the memories of these penny-bright days, warm sun through fiery leaves, to carry me through the next  – colder – season.