Tonight, the smell of wood took us all off guard. None of us had heard of that. But this week, I traveled through Peggs, OK and slowed. Downed trees, broken uprooted lined the highway, but also along the side roads, large trees that had made summers shadier, more tolerable for the heat we all endure in Oklahoma. But the trees were cut in sections, segments removed so roads were accessible for the residents. Trees down for miles through the countryside and white trucks working on restoring power and knowing they had miles more to accomplish.
But all along there, I was only looking, I failed to notice, to follow the smell of wood, as the weatherman had mentioned I know it would have been there, had to have been. The fresh woods were only taken down 2 days before, just as tonight more of the shady woods were going down again, as a series of tornados were being tracked by the colors of the wrapped around features throughout the state.
We wait and watch and wonder whose lives are changing as they and we settle in with the weather as it comes upon us. Others wait for the all clear signal, still others wonder how much closer the water will come as it rises, higher so very slowly.
Weather watchers we all used to be, when that was the way we determined what was coming at us. We watched the color of the clouds, the temperature, the wind and the hail we knew would be coming. At night we sat on the porch and watched the lightning as it lit up the sky and counted until we heard the thunder to determine how many miles the storm was from reaching us. We were good at it, but somehow we turned it all over to the “weathermen” and the colored screens and radar. And days like we have had lately and endless nights, I am grateful they have the stamina to keep it going, keeping ever ready to be our fulltime weather-watchers.
But what we have done to amplify our own weather? What ways are we all complicit in the changing climate we are experiencing? Each of us can do better. Changing can be satisfying, and each of us can become members of a grateful nation as we each make those decisions.
I read the coal miners chapter in Hidden America by Jeanne Marie Laskas and what their work was like and how the world beneath us is for them and why they toile to help keep the lights on. And it made me want to simply turn the light off and give them a break.
And then just that suddenly the lights, all of them and the colored screen with the multiple colors indicated headed this way and that way went off. The wind died down and the rains have stopped. I stepped outside to not listen but to smell for the new broken wood and am pleased not to find it.
Out on the prairie, the only sound is the water rushing in the gully. No wind. No rain. Just dark upon us all. And in my mind are the people in shelters coming out, those others up and wondering what has happened to neighbors, towns, the country roads that connect us. And wait for daylight for news of who have been affected, lost lives, or property.
Not even the birds can be heard, what a night they have experienced, nights in a row for them. They who are left with us also wait for the daylight and wish for one more moment of the power of coal to light up the screens and bring back the weatherman to assure us of what we are assessing. The storm has passed.
The first bird is speaking, sending that message out she has survived. The crickets made it, the wind still, the gully water rushing and then just for a moment the moon, the only light.
Peaceful it is, and peace be upon you all as we learn the rain has returned and filled the whole sky wet yet again.
Just how much can the gully hold? When will it breech the mudroom and fill the floor? Why keep the lake level so high? How do we begin the work of clean up when more keeps coming? Homes filling with water, the water filled with what all we have left to change it from the life-giving water to the toxic waste of the blends of what we left in the garage, what was spread on our lawns, all the dog poop left in the yards all the cow manure stacked up in feed lots and chicken waste, at the edge of poultry houses.
Here in the dark, the questions keep coming and the resolve to do the small things tomorrow to help others and respond to ways I contribute to the bigger picture.
Reflectively yours ~ Rebecca Jim