Well, that time is here again. We in the midwest are surprised with gifts from Mother Nature quite often.
Yesterday we hit a rare winter high of 64 degrees. James flung open the front door and turned on the attic fan. He was almost giddy, I nearly expected him to burst into song and the Highland Fling. That he does not know any Scottish dancing is of no consequence.
Our house was immediately filled with the smell of clean air. We humans (and a stinky dog) sure know how to make it stifling in here in the course of two months. The fresh air was blissful! I got a bit chilly (not my fault I'm married to a human torch, wait, maybe it is) but my sweater soon remedied that.
It smelled of 'almost spring'. Smells can be deceiving.
In the later evening I thought I heard a rumble. I decided it was a truck or some such thing. A while later I heard it again, stronger. It was thunder. Hmm, I thought. A thunderstorm in December. How exhilarating! (It should be mentioned that I love storms. The swirling energy, the charged air, the raw power coursing through the atmosphere.)
I heard cries from Princess' room. James went in and consoled her.
Five minutes after he came out, the wailing began again. I went in to console her and told her some nonsense that it was like the bowling game we play on the Wii, but in the sky. Or the one I try to play, but completely suck at. (Sorry for the word, Mom, but I do.) I get mad and don't release the button soon enough, then pull my arm muscles. I hate that game.
Anyway, my explanation seemed to do the trick. I gave her a little doll so that she could take care of it and tell it that everything was ok. She may have given another wail or two after that, but then she fell asleep.
So I went to bed, very very late. Listening to the thunder made me feel satisfied in my soul. It always does. The rumbling echoes any rumblings inside me, and I'm not talking about hunger pangs. It makes me feel wild and free, one with the whole of the windy, unpredictableness of it all. It makes me feel alive. So, so alive. When I went to sleep I felt peaceful amid the grumblings and groanings of the sky.
I wasn't even thinking of any possible danger when I woke up this morning, after blissfully sleeping in. I should have, but the thought hadn't even crossed my mind. James' father called at 8:30, asking if we had power. I couldn't think of why we wouldn't, until I heard the words 'ice storm'. Blast. I should have thought of that the night before.
Looking outside, I thought back to the ice storm we had last December. The 12th, to be exact. The one that put our city on the national news, most of the city had no power for close to a week. We were one of the very lucky ones who didn't lose power. I was worried we wouldn't be so lucky this time.
Last year we ended up with a limb on the house. James was able to get it off and it hadn't damaged the roof. We had branches and a huge mess everywhere, and it affected our power lines but we didn't know that until the next week. This morning I was grateful for that storm, because all the limbs that exploded like gunshots off the trees had already fallen. Our house was in no immediate danger, and I was free to marvel at the beauty a tree takes on when it is coated in crystal. They seem like fairy trees, not of this world. So beautiful.
It gets me to thinking. We go through storms in this life, sometimes we deal with the same storm more than once. But, we can take what we have received from those experiences and apply them to our current troubles. Sometimes the pain of the past helps us in ways we hadn't before thought about. We would have rather not had those experiences, but the blessings come in ways we may not initially see. Sometimes the pain of the past is in its own mixed way, a blessing for the future.
This all makes sense to me now, as it's late and I should be in bed. It may not tomorrow. But the challenges we all face in life, whether big or small, can actually help us. Perhaps not right away, but at some time they will help us. Or they'll enable us to help someone else.
I remember how long it took the sheared trees of the ice storm of '94 to grow back. Driving along the highway caused sadness deep in my heart. The sight of twisted, mangled trees affected me physically, with almost an aching sadness. But did the trees give up? Nope. Slowly the new growth appeared, and the split, painful looking landscape healed. They may have even grown back stronger.
The trees around here have been through a lot this past year. Nearly all of the destruction from December 2007 is gone in the city, but driving down the highways you can see much of it left when you peer through the trees. But they have come back fighting. They don't let the ice win.
Before I snuggle into my bed, I'm going to take one last look outside at the winter wonderland. My trees look burdened. But they are strong, they'll make it.
And so will we all.