As I stepped out into the wind this morning, I took off my ear flap cap and let the wind ruffle my short, unkempt hair. Finally and enjoyably, Mother Nature was providing the first well-above freezing temperatures of the week. City workers restored power to our neighborhood last night, and I slept well knowing the worst of the ice storm was over. “Silly hat”, I thought. I really did not like wearing any head covering, but comfort and protection from the cold made it necessary to don one this time of year. But this morning, I wanted to feel the wind and sun!
The news will report that Oklahoma and parts of Texas have been devastated by an ice storm this week. Statistics, however they are wielded by the hand that delivers them, can make a situation fit anywhere in the spectrum from catastrophic to minimal – a positive experience or a very negative happening. Since Forrest works on the generation and transmission side of the power grid, I understand his perspective on the monumental damage ice storms can cause, and the cost and labor involved in repairs. But I also understand the perspective of an outside observer – namely, me.
As a person deeply connected in nature, I have my own measuring stick for what an ice storm means. I was raised to take on whatever came my way. Like the wild critters, I prepare early and squirrel away food for winter, listen to instinct, and do what comes naturally for survival – hole up during the storm and, when things calm down, get back to achieving and living. To me, it is fruitless to allow fear to enter into the equation. One does what one needs to survive. If one is lucky, a silver lining is found in the experience.
While I was out in the elements over the last couple of days tending to the chickens and fawns, carrying water to the house, preparing simple meals, and living a bit more in survival mode than we are used to, I found myself feeling very alive and thankful. When faced with adversity at times in my life, instinct has always guided me to the side of fight or flight. Growing up on a farm as I did, one could never give in to fear or whining around and moping about what misery life might bring. I have never seen wildlife give up despite being wounded or in a bad spot. The will to survive is strong in me as it is in the wild critters.
This morning, I dragged downed elm branches from the pasture to the deer pen and put them over the side of the fence. I was elated that nature had trimmed the trees for me, and made my job fetching browse for the deer much easier. I even wondered that the storm bringing limbs down with leaves still attached might actually be a boon for the deer since the leaves will be attached longer, allowing more available browse for an extended period of time.
I also saw birds flying, and squirrels out scampering around, all getting back to the normalcy of life. Most of the trees that remained standing would survive. Some would not. That is nature’s way. While I picked up visible deer scat in the deer pen to clean things up a bit, I found a little sparrow that had not survived the storm. And we will likely find more death as we venture into the orchard later today. This is the business of living and dying. It is normal.
As I walked around this morning, feeling alive and well, I found myself happy for the experience of doing without for a few days, the change of pace it brought, and feeling exhilarated at having weathered the challenge. I especially loved the beauty the ice storm created, and how witnessing its splendor first-hand made me feel like the luckiest girl alive.
“People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong. Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?” Thick Nhat Hanh
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