Tag Archives: Winter storm

Carrying On, Oblivious

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We had a severe winter storm last December that damaged many trees here on Beaver Island.

As the Winter snows melt away, the Spring waters recede and the deep mud dries up, I’m able to walk the dogs through areas that have been impassible for months. We often come upon trees that have fallen, casualties of that long ago storm. The big dog usually goes over; the small dog goes under. Most times I go around.

Last week, preparing to go off trail once again to circumvent the large treetop that was still in my path, I noticed a change that brought tears to my eyes, and caused me to investigate further.

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This is where the tree begins, far into the woods. The weight of the snow on its branches caused it to bow, and it eventually snapped. It took another, smaller tree down with it.

It is laid out through the woods, forty feet or more of it, from heavy trunk to the tiniest, topmost branches, which are spread out across the woodland path.

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And, close-up, look like this:

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Yes, oblivious to the fact that the trunk has been severed from the earth, that death is imminent and unavoidable, this tree is about to unfurl its leaves in a show of Springtime glory!

One of my entries here on WordPress was selected for “Freshly Pressed” a couple weeks ago. I think it’s a pretty big honor. I know it’s very flattering.

That distinction brought several new readers and “like”-ers and “follow”-ers (Welcome!) to my blog. It also made me afraid that I would never again have anything to say that would come close to that quality of writing. Which would mean that from here on out, everything I write will be a disappointment (Sorry!).

It really can be quite paralyzing.

Many years ago I worked with a young man named Jeff, the summer after his high school graduation. He had been a popular boy, a football player, the class president, well liked by both students and faculty. He’d had a wonderful high school experience, and he was smart enough to appreciate it. He was also intelligent enough to be thoughtful, and he was afraid. “What if those were the best years of my life?” he wondered, “How can anything else measure up?”

These are similar to my fears about this blog, since being “Freshly Pressed.”

I had opportunity to talk to Jeff ten years later. He’d learned that fresh challenges present themselves, new experiences bring joy, and those high school memories fade into the past, so that they are no longer the yardstick by which all other experiences are measured.

“And how did you come to learn that?” I asked him.

“Well, I guess I just blindly kept going, and things worked out,” he said.

So, with that magnificent, doomed tree and that thoughtful young man as examples, that’s what I’m doing.

Maybe one with a better perspective than I have can see that it’s hopeless. Maybe my best is behind me.

Oblivious to all that, I carry on.

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Hanging On

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In the Summer, these leaves are nothing special.

A simple leaf shape. A plain green color.

In Autumn, when other trees are sporting dozens of shades at once in hues from brightest yellow to deep magenta, these leave fade – uniformly – to this pale, barely orange tone. Tree wide, without variation.

Unremarkable.

It’s only in the Winter when I start to take notice of them.

These are the only leaves still clinging to the branches.

Some days, when the snow blankets the ground and the sunless days leave the pine needles looking black, these leaves are the only bit of color in the woods.

All through the Winter, and right into Spring, they hang on.

Through winter storms that stripped pine trees of their branches and caused tall maples to bow, these leaves just stayed.

That alone is pretty remarkable.

Happy Spring!

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We got another winter storm this week, here on Beaver Island.

It left us with a few inches of new snow, on top of what was still on the ground.

It is snowing again, now.

We’ve had enough of Winter, sure.

We had one whopper rain-to-sleet-to-snow storm in December that took down trees and disabled electrical service and left us a little bit frightened of what else the season would give us.

Beyond that, I don’t think we’ve broken any records for low temperatures or amount of snowfall.

Still, it’s been a real Winter.

Especially compared to last year, which was almost no Winter at all.

I’m hearing people say, “Enough!”

Tired of the snow. Ready for Spring.

I understand. I feel it, too.

Still, I feel a bit sentimental about snow this time of year.

This might be our last snow of the season. I get wistful.

It is just undeniably beautiful, after all, with the trees casting blue shadows across the white surface, the sun shining down…

Whatever nature gives us, it won’t last long now.

The days are longer; the sun shines brighter; the earth is warming up.

I love the Springtime. I’m ready for it.

Still, I’m happy to be watching the snow coming down, this first day of Spring!

What I Did When The Lights Went Out

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First of all, there’s not much you canĀ do without electricity.

In my home, when the electricity is out, there is no computer and no telephone. The pump bringing water in from the well will not function without electricity, so water use has to be kept to a minimum. The only light, after the sun goes down, is candlelight and the occasional glow from the propane heater. Travel is impossible; I am shut off from the world.

It seems there isn’t much I can do, besides read…and eat…and sleep.

Yesterday, a winter storm came through Beaver Island. It started with rain, then sleet. By afternoon it had turned to snow. At my house, the snowflakes were almost as big as the palm of my hand. The landscape was quickly transformed from bare, wintry ground to a beautiful white landscape.

I thought of putting a soothing pot of soup on the stove, of baking bread, and batches of cookies to take advantage of the warm feelings brought on by the wonderland outside.

Then the lights started flickering. Out for a minute or two, then back on…then out again a few minutes later.

I made a simple dinner, lit candles, put dishes in the sink. I was having a dish of cottage cheese and pineapple when the lights went out and stayed out.

I finished my dessert.

I pulled out a soft comforter, picked up my new digital reader (lighted screen! genius!), blew out the candles and made myself comfortable on the sofa.

I have three books downloaded on my reader that I have yet to finish. The one I’m reading now is a mystery by Tana French, Into the Woods. Her stories are set in Ireland and feature an interesting cast of Dublin police officers. A fairly new author, her mysteries have an unpredictable quality that I like. This is the second of her books that I’ve read, though it’s the first in the series.

Cozy on the couch, with the little dog curled at my feet, it seemed like I read for hours.

I have a word game on the reading device, too, and thought of spending some time with that. Then the little icon popped up, telling me my battery was low. I held my watch up to the lighted screen to get an idea of the time. Oh. Eight-thirty. I read for a few more minutes, then turned off the device and went to sleep.

For twelve and a half hours.

I could have roused myself sooner, but without electricity, there seemed little reason to throw off the covers. When the dogs needed to go out, I got up.

No coffee.

Well, there was, in fact, about a half cup of yesterday’s cold coffee in the bottom of the pot. If it had been hot…and more…I would have been happy.

My friend, Laura, had just sent me home two nights earlier with Christmas goodies: home-made “kahlua”, chocolate nut clusters, chocolate covered pretzels…

I put the cold coffee in a loaf pan with a slosh of the liqueur, and set it on the propane stove to warm. I opened the tin of peanut clusters. Hard times call for hard measures.

Over “breakfast”, I read The Peasant Kitchen by Perla Meyers. I’d found this vintage book several months ago at a sale, and had barely given it a glance since.

My friend, Doug, pulled in around 11:00, with his plow truck. I bundled up and went out to greet him. It had taken him almost an hour, he said, to get from his driveway to mine, just a little over a mile to the south. “Lots of trees down, too”, he said. “Do they know the electricity is out?” I wondered. Doug didn’t have the answer, but said he’d look into it. I made a feeble attempt at clearing the heavy snow from my car, then retreated back inside while Doug cleared my driveway.

Too much snow on our usual trails, the dogs and I headed out straight down the Fox Lake Road for our daily exercise. Doug had cleared the way from his house to mine, so that’s the way we headed. The county road trucks hadn’t been down this way yet, so there would be no other traffic to worry about. So beautiful! So thrilling! All the new snow combined with a change from our usual route had the dogs leaping in the air and wagging tails in excitement. By the time we got home an hour later, we were ready to settle in quietly again.

I pulled out another cookbook. This time, An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler, purchased with great anticipation last September, never opened until today. It’s beautifully written, basic and inclusive. It made me want to be boiling an egg or roasting vegetables.

I finished off a bag of tortilla chips, for lunch. Opened the tin of chocolate covered pretzels for dessert.

Steve Hamilton has a series of mystery stories set in and around Paradise, Michigan, in the upper peninsula. I’d checked his latest out of the library when I’d stopped last week. I pulled it off the shelf.

Doug stopped back to report that the electrical outage was almost island wide, that our generators were running, so there must be outages on the mainland, too, and that he and another guy had just had to help each other out of the ditch on Paid Een Ogg’s Road. “The road crews have been down the King’s Highway, but it’s still not good. The other roads are terrible. Now it’s starting to drift”, he said, “I’d advise you not to try it today.” Well, I’d been looking forward to going to work for the coffee and hot meal I could get there, but I wasn’t excited about the drive in. Seven and a half miles can seem excruciatingly long and lonely on Beaver Island when the roads are bad. Doug agreed to call in to explain from his land line, at home.

I decided perhaps a nice winter’s nap was in order. I read just long enough to make me drowsy, then settled in for a snooze.

Without electricity, this house is perfectly still. There are no traffic noises, no motors, no voices other than my own.

I was awakened by an electronic beep…my answering machine coming back on.

So twenty-four hours later, life is back on track. I had a hot meal. I’m drinking evening coffee. The best cup of coffee! The road crew came down the Fox Lake Road. I’ve had phone calls from each of my daughters. I am better rested than I’ve been in a long time!

All in all, a nice day.