When Oklahoma gets severe weather, it is often predicted a few days beforehand. The local weather folks had warned us earlier in the week, that the dry line would set up in our area of the state, giving us some pretty fair chances of volatile weather. I had planned to spend some time this afternoon, preparing for the weather that would surely arrive by early evening. I wanted to be certain my plants were protected from hail, and make sure to put the vehicles, and anything else I could stash, in our storage building for safe cover.
My first duty of the day was to fix a hearty breakfast. I do not usually indulge in a filling morning meal, but the instructions on the medication I was taking the past two days, required the tablets to be taken with food. For over a week, I had suffered with poison ivy rash. Where and how I acquired it seemed to be a mystery. The only idea I had was that I mowed two days in a fierce wind, perhaps mowing over a patch of poison ivy I did not know existed. We do have poison ivy in the woods, but I had not been in that area by foot, and certainly this time of year I always wore jeans and boots for protection. When the rash first appeared, I could not imagine how I acquired it so extensively! Over the next several days it showed up in new places, spreading over my legs, buttocks, arms and chest. It was as if I had literally rolled in the toxic weed!
And, being a person who prefers to try home remedies first, I tried a number of treatments to find an end to the incessant itching. Finally, I gave in and went to the doctor. I couldn’t believe that I had succumbed to the urushiol oil produced by the plant after bragging for years that I was immune to this toxic plant (I had unknowingly pulled it up with bare hands in the past and had no reaction!). I had never once suffered the consequences that 70 to 85 percent of the population does, when they come into contact with the ivy. The doctor informed me there was no explanation as to why my number had finally come up. The bottom line was that I had it, and I best figure out how I acquired it so that I could keep from experiencing this kind of misery again.
And, I had another aggravation on top of the horrible, red blotches and bumps that riddled my body. The very same week I was exposed to poison ivy, I received a district jury summons. I had never been called for jury duty and, call me crazy, I had always hoped to be asked. Each time family or friends were called to serve, I was a little jealous. I wanted to do my civic duty! And now that I was finally called, I was a miserable mess, scratching every part of my body and utterly unable to sit for very long periods of time.
Then, to top it off, as ugly as they were after a week of trying not to itch, the bumps developed into weeping blisters that oozed and itched all the more! Just trying to find a comfortable position in which to sleep at night seemed impossible. So, on the last day possible, I made an appointment to see the judge, as instructed on my summons, to see if I qualified to be relieved of my duty. Taking one look at my angry red, weeping legs and blotchy, bumpy arms, the judge signed off, and I was dismissed from jury duty.
So this morning, I ate my open-faced, egg sandwich and took the Methylprednisolone tablets, choking them down with a full glass of water. I gently rubbed the Betamethasone Valerate cream on all of the spots and rash patches. I donned a pair of cargo shorts and a short-sleeved t-shirt and headed out to the already, sweltering heat. The wind was blasting out of the south like a furnace. Everything about this morning seemed to suggest a spring storm.
As usual, I got side-tracked from my “to do” list and started out picking up trash on the property since tomorrow would be the day the refuse truck empties our trash polycart. Our property borders an alley, where people often pitch trash. Weekly, I travel the alley in my electric buggy to pick up the trashy b@$!@&#$ discards. Needless to say, this is an aggravating task. I do not understand why people just throw trash from a vehicle, or why some properties are riddled with household trash, left to blow around the neighborhood.
While driving down the alley, I stopped to visit my neighbor, Mrs. Perry. Before I knew it, she was in the buggy with me. I gave her a tour of our ten acres, and afterward, we sat on the back porch, having tea, talking about life.
By the time I delivered Mrs. Perry back to her home, it was lunch time, which meant time for two more pills and another application of poison ivy cream. I would have to work non-stop if I was going to complete all that I had on my “to do” list! By now, it was really hot and humid, and the wind was gusting fairly hard. Big cumulonimbus clouds were building in the southern sky. Still, I managed all of my tasks by late afternoon and headed inside for a quick shower. As I cleaned up, I remembered I also had cookies to bake for a friend. Baking on a hot day was not exactly appealing to me, but I had promised them, and bake them I would!
Just as my friend arrived to fetch the cookies, the sky let loose of the first rain drops. The clouds were looking a bit threatening, so I hurried to take down the hummingbird feeders from the shepherd hooks and move the patio furniture to the back of the porch to keep it dry. At the front porch, I removed the wicker chair cushions and pulled up the rugs. By now the wind chimes were making a chaotic racket, so I removed them too. The storm was moving in quickly!
Before long, the wind came slamming across the fields, bringing a torrent of rain and hail. Most of the hail was pea- and marble-sized, but it continuously pelted the earth, ripping leaves from the trees while the straight-line wind hurled it all against the house. Most of my young fruit trees were completely bent to the ground in the sustained, high winds. The rain was driving down in sheets and, at times, I could not even see the trees in the woods just behind the house! The weather man on the local television station stated that our area had 60 to 70 mph winds. What I was seeing out my windows, seemed more like a hurricane!
My first thought when weather is severe, especially when it involves hail and winds that can take down limbs and trees, is always about Daisy deer. I had seen her hunker down in hail storms before. Despite access to a dry room in the barn attached to her pen (with a roof over the entry, nonetheless, she would often lay down in the open, stoically braving the storm and enduring the hail, slamming rain, and wind. This evening, I said a prayer for Daisy’s safety and for the protection of all of the woodland animals and birds.
It was nearly dark by the time three different storm cells completed their trek through the area. Afterwards, I grabbed the high-beam flashlight and headed out to check out the storm damage. The south side of the house was plastered with leaves. My beautiful flowers were beaten to the ground, ripped by the wind and splattered with mud. Looking across the pasture, I noticed branches down from trees, and one big, old elm tree that had lost large limbs, which landed on our pasture fence. Several pieces of sheet metal from a garage in the alley lay askew in our pasture. In the distance, I heard the wail of city sirens and, in just a short time, chain saws began to buzz as the sounds of traffic picked up. Obviously, there was city-wide damage from the storm. I would have my work cut out for me tomorrow!
As I plodded back to the house, shoes squishing along the path to the woods, I shone my flashlight into the darkness below. I hoped I would not see a lot of damage in the woods. I had worked so hard this past winter, after all, clearing brush and fallen limbs while keeping the burn pile stoked. I scanned the area slowly, looking for downed limbs or trees, and then… there SHE was! There was the orange collar… and the brown body with the scraggly winter coat! Daisy had weathered the storm, and had come home to nibble corn at the feeder.
For once, Daisy did not wait for me to come to her, or cautiously sniff my hand before she was sure it was me. This time she seemed to know… to want her human mother. She walked to me, and I walked to her. For a long time, she licked my arms and neck (the parts that didn’t have poison ivy ointment on them!) and she let me scratch her and pick ticks off of her. I petted her and spoke with her. I put my hand on her belly, hoping to feel a kick or movement from the little fawn she was carrying… and I DID feel movement!! For about an hour I stood with her. We watched an armadillo rooting nearby, and twice we sent a raccoon packing who seemed intent on feeding on Daisy’s corn and deer chow.
Daisy would eat a bit and then come to me, seeming to want more attention. Her demeanor reminded me of the old days, when she would lay with me and allow me to love on her. Finally, when I became cold and the mosquitoes began attacking me, I bid her farewell. Oh, it was so hard to leave her! As I climbed the slope, I shone my flashlight on her as she moved to a nearby tree branch to nibble new shoots, enjoying the tender leaves. A little while later, I went out on the back porch and my flashlight found Daisy grazing in the pasture just south of the house.
I was so happy that my Daisy had come home after the terrible storm! For that hour I spent with her, I did not once think of my itching, or of the damage to the woods and the property. I did not hear the noises of the city. I was aware of my humanness, yet I did not want to be. I was in Daisy’s world… in the night. I longed to be more to her, at that moment, than the human mother that I was. And yet, it appeared, that I was enough for her just as I was. It seemed not to matter to her that I was different… that I was a human. She was content to have my company, and to walk with me. I was elated that she came home, and that she allowed me to “mother” her like I used to. Daisy’s presence was a gift to me tonight. She is, has always been, and shall always be, the silver lining to every storm in my life…
© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…
The following photos were taken one rare morning recently when Daisy came to feed during daylight hours. She spent about an hour roaming around, nibbling plants and trees. She stopped occasionally to allow me to pet her, pick ticks off of her and rub her ears and face. This time of year, she is particularly itchy, as she sheds her winter coat, and her new, lighter summer coat comes in. After a time, she slowly made her way deep into the woods, heading back to an area she used to bed down in during the daylight hours when she was just a fawn.