November 6, 2015
It happened one day, an unremarkable day. They’re all unremarkable, until they’re not. I woke up to the sun shining, not a cloud in the sky. A breeze twinkled my wind chime and a feeling of well-being sat languid in my chest. By 9:00 a.m. the trees were bent with the force of the wind. The skies turned black, and God opened his faucet full force, drowning everything underneath. Standing on my deck, I scoured the sky, trying to ascertain the direction of the storm. There had been no warning. The sky, dark as far as the eye could see, didn’t give away the storm’s origin or path.
The wind and rain buffeted me. I stood stalwart, sure it would pass and we would remain unscathed if not wet, but the rain and wind continued. The wind howled like a cat in heat as it blasted through the cavern behind my house. I clung to the post, watching in dismay as tree branches and detritus washed down the mountain. I worried the storm would shake the house from its foundation and we too would slide down with the rest of the trash.
I wrapped my arms tighter around the porch post, increasing my efforts to stay standing. Feet planted on the wooden floor of the deck, I lifted my chin to the elements and let the rain soak my face. Brazen and assured my house wouldn’t slip, I dared Mother Nature to give me her best, and She did. The storm increased its intensity, water rushed from every sloped direction, and the sound of splitting wood rent the air. I gripped the post even tighter, unable to pinpoint the source of the sound and feared the house had just given way.
Within seconds, the towering pine tree at the base of my property came tumbling down. Branches broke off as they came into contact with other trees. Splinters of wood shot through the air and I ducked as the top of the tree came barreling at me. The earth shook with the force of impact. Chunks of tree splattered across my lower drive, leaving the house intact. The wind whipped even more, issuing challenge to the pine tree’s brethren. They bent and shook, but all withstood the onslaught.
I slunk into the house feeling stupid for clinging to the post. The wind continued to scream and I watched as pieces of the newly fallen tree swept into the waters, churning as rivulets collided. They bumped and ricocheted off each other, and all found their way to the end of the driveway and tumbled after each other down the mountain. I stared, mesmerized at the destruction. What if that had been the house pulled from its foundation and I had been clinging to the post?
Why wouldn’t I think the house safe and solid and something to which I should cling? My house provides shelter. It’s warm. Everyday I come and go, confident it will be there when I get back. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s what I’ve come to know and rely on as sturdy, reliable, stable. Yet, the sound of the tree ripping from the ground and smashing on the driveway played over and over again in my mind. The hawk who perched in that tree every night to eat his dinner, would he be unfazed by the tree’s absence? Would he be just as happy someplace else? The bird’s nest in the lower branch, gone. Had they been tucked in thinking they were safe while trying to stay out of the rain?
It happened one day, one sunny unremarkable day, until it wasn’t. The winds of change barreled through. They howled through caverns, bent trees to their will, snapping them at their core. And there I was, clinging to my post, watching as the storm vanquished the illusion of stability.
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