Rainstorms

I love rainstorms. Can’t say I like the wind, but I don’t mind the lightening.  As a kid, I enjoyed watching the lightening from the safety of the garage.  Now, I enjoy watching the lightening from my bedroom window.  I listen to the rain splattering against the roof.  Hard rain or soft, it comforts me.

When in college, I enjoyed running in the rain. Only the presence of a hurricane seemed to bring the turbulent, lightening filled rainstorm of my youth.  Often the rain was warm rather than cold and biting.  Running in the rain was reminiscent of childhood post-storm puddle-jumping, it would always make me smile.

Last night’s rain was hard and heavy. We needed the rain; a lack of winter storms has left the ground too dry.  Sprinklers and drip system cannot replace Mother Nature.  Good heavy rain now will go a long way in helping our plants grow and survive the summer.

Rain unaccompanied by strong winds is a rare thing on the Eastern Plains of Colorado.  Sadly, last night’s rain was accompanied by a couple twisters.  Luckily for us, we are well north of where the tornadoes touched down, and our rain, while heavy at times, was pleasant.  It was hard to wake up and learn that the comforting storm which brought life sustaining rain to our land, left a path of destruction on land to the south. It was a reminder that the good and the bad go hand in hand.  Joy and sorrow, the time eternal contrast which gives life its meaning are often the companions of the Colorado rainstorm.

Blessings of a Blackout

While losing power for twelve hours is not on my list of fun ways to spend a family evening at home, it does have some positive attributes.  Yesterday a vicious wind blew up from the south. The wind never really stops on the Eastern Plains of Colorado, a reality one learns quickly if they want to prosper here.  My daughter, a much heartier soul than I, considers most of our light gales to be nothing more than pleasant breezes.

The wind and weather can come from all directions: blizzards from the north, rain from the east, and hail from the west, but it is the wind from the south that is to be feared.  Barns blown over, trees uprooted and shingle roofs shredded, these are commonality not rarity with winds from the south.

Yesterday’s wind began with blustery force.  Hair had to be re-combed at church, even super-hold hairspray and gel withered under the assault.  The drive home was a challenge for the newbie behind the wheel.  No drivers ed course could prepare the novice for the head wind he faced, but luck was with him and the dust cloud arose only after he had safely made it home. One new driving challenge faced, one saved for a future day.

By 5pm the wind was gathering strength, but animals still needed care.  The stalwart, hearty daughter braved the crossing of the yard, only to become imprisoned with her wards in the rabbit house.  A decade of living on the plains has taught us to build strong, permanent shelters for our animals. Our rabbit house was built with the knowledge that our daughter would also spend many hours inside it.  When the full force of the angry wind struck, we knew she was safe.  When the power went out from multiple power lines being blown down, we knew she was prepared with emergency light.

The wind raged, escalated and began to sound more dangerous than anything we had heard before. The power went out. We heard sounds of crashes and wondered which yard items had been destroyed. Then as if the wind knew havoc had been rendered, it died down returning to the soft gale my daughter calls a breeze.

Dinner was jelly beans, Oreos and cheese.  Lap tops provided a few moments of entertainment, books emerged and the piano was played as darkness settled in for the night.  Baseball caps equipped with LED lights donned the heads of one and all. Quiet pursuits and conversations, calm thoughts and contemplations, broken periodically with laughter were the activities of the evening.

The power seldom stays out this long and we are prepared for emergencies.  We could have cooked a warm meal, we could have lit a lamp, but the peacefulness of a simple evening was too inviting. The blanked quite of the night calmed our minds and gave us rest; a break from the world, the blessings of a blackout.

Reflect

Light From Above *

Take the time to reflect on the hard work you have done today.

Take the time to reflect on the many blessings you have received through your hard work.

Take the time to reflect on the All Mighty that gives you the opportunity to work, the ability to work and the blessings you receive from that work.

In His name, have compassion for those who do not have the opportunity to work, have not been taught to work, or do not have the ability to work.  In His name, all things are possible, but without compassion, in other words – charity, nothing good is possible.

Take the time to reflect…

* For more from the artist, visit Ayla’s Allegories.

The Natural Order of Life

Growing up on a farm, I learned the hard lesson that an individual life can often be shorter than the average lifespan predicts.

The natural order of life and death must be faced on a regular basis when living on a farm.  Our farm raised milk cows and so while I was fully aware of where our meat came from, I knew that the production of milk was the main goal.  This meant keeping the animals healthy and alive for a long time.

My role in the business was aiding my mother in nurturing the young calves. My mom was a great nurturer of animals and had a phenomenal survival rate with her charges.  At times she was even asked to guest speak for agricultural classes.  So while I was exposed to death on the farm, I only directly faced it with the very weak or very old animals.

This pattern changed drastically during the summer of my fifteenth year when an unusual virus took the life of fifty percent of the animals born that summer. While we did everything we could to keep the feverish newborns alive, in the end the strange virus was just too destructive.  By the end of that hot, grueling summer, death no longer seemed like something natural, but rather like a monster, unmerciful and unrelenting.  A new comprehension that the natural order of life and death could be traumatic settled in my consciousness.

That year was my last to work on the farm; the world around me changed and I changed with it. Over the years, the trauma of that summer faded and was replaced with a greater understanding that there are worse things in life than death.

Now I am older, a mother with my own teenagers who have experienced the death of many family members in their youth. While to my children, these family members were old, a few had died before reaching the “average” lifespan and by most standards, were still too young to leave this life behind.  I have tried to bring comfort to myself and teach my children that their grandmothers went to a better place; that their bodies had been worn out too soon, and that death brought an end to their suffering.

Just as the animals of my youth helped me face the realities of life and death and helped prepare me for the eventual death of family members, the animals of my children’s youth are teaching the same lessons.  Like the summer of my fifteenth year when an unusual heat brought an unusual virus, this year has presented odd shifts in the weather bringing untimely deaths.

Winter is supposed to be cold.  Animals grow extra hair to keep them warm during the winter, and unlike humans they can’t simply remove their coats when the temperature soars.  Sadly older animals, animals with weaker constitutions, and the very young often don’t survive when the temperatures soar one day and drop the next. Sometimes human intervention can help, but often times an animal, seemingly healthy one day, will lie down in the night and will rise no more at the dawn. This is life and life is not predictable. Knowing the average lifespan was met, is not a comfort.

Rest in Peace Bean – you taught us much about angora rabbits, made us laugh at your antics, and left a healthy posterity to carry on in your absence.  9 Feb 2012

Exercise Caution at Your Own Risk

“Caution, Watch Your Step,” stated the sign posted on large heap of icy snow which had to be crossed before one could reach the somewhat clear sidewalk. Caution signs were seriously needed for all those shoppers who might not have realized how the massive snow storm and subsequent snow plows had left filthy piles of snow as far as the eye could see.

The snow heaps, which had the potential to melt and freeze repeatedly during a week of sunny skies yet frozen temperatures, were uneven and slippery. These heaps of snow necessitated the four caution signs located in a twelve foot section of curb. They were vital to human safety.

However the real danger was that while watching your feet so you would not slip on the ice, you might just walk into one of the four signs, two lamp posts, two trees and one park bench that stood between you and the deli you wanted to enter a mere twenty feet away.

Moral: Caution is great but if you are always looking at your feet you might miss the beauty of the world around you or may even miss the lurking danger.