We can always be sure that God makes it where we always have something (s) to pray about, and, just as important, we always have something (s) to be thankful for. When it comes to the weather, I think, regardless of where we live, we always have things to be to be both about.
It’s said that the weather is always something we can talk about, and, again, true regardless of where we live. While it would be easy to write about the weather “up here” for the last few weeks, with record-setting cold, I look back to one particular night, late last year, when we got a taste of what a lot of the country had been facing for so much of the past year: Rain, winds, storms, and more rain, storms, and wind.
It was the end of October/first of November, when the rains came. We are blessed up here in the North Country to be “shielded” from things like Hurricanes, Tornados, and the like. Occasionally, however, we’ll get the tail-end of a real monster, which ends its devastating trek across the country up North, before it heads out to sea. Of course, we’re speaking of rain-storms, and not the snow-storms, the ‘Nor’easters, which can make headlines … and make people wonder why anyone would want to “live up there.” The cold that we’re still experiencing (it was -15 when I went to bed last night) makes many wonder the same thing.
Anyway, it was the end of this past October, when the wind and rain was forecast to hit us, and, what followed, really made us appreciate/understand, first-hand, what our friends way-down South, and up the Coast, had been experiencing. Not since Irene and Sandy approached, were we facing a storm like this one, with the potential of damaging winds and flooding rain. And … hit, it did.
While we all like to think we are prepared for such an event, there’s just no way to accurately prepare for a storm’s onslaught, because you just never know what it will hit … and, what it will miss. You just have to do the best you can … and, pray.
The storm, as predicted, hit up here, in the middle of the night, on the first Monday night of November. Many friends told me they were awakened in the middle of the night by the high winds and pounding rain, the sound of limbs and trees falling. Didn’t I hear it? I didn’t. I guess that’s one of the “benefits” of going to bed so late … you sleep through just about anything … Anyway … the power had gone off, sometime during the night, and the heavy rain was still falling before dawn. I stepped out onto the front porch, but it was too dark to see anything.
I could see my truck, where I had parked it on Saturday, where I park it alongside the porch, so that I can just walk up the ramp with the groceries. Yes, I do the grocery-shopping (up here, they call it “food-shopping). I have three places I park the truck, in non-Winter months: Either down off the driveway, below (our house is on a hill, or maybe better put, within a hill, with the garage way down below, and the floors of the house progressing up the hill, if that makes sense), underneath a cedar tree, right behind a stand of sumac trees (not the poisonous ones), which shield the house from the road. That’s my normal non-Winter parking spot, as I like to walk around the house, up the hill to the back yard, to enjoy the yard and flowers, making my way around, behind the house, to the front porch. I could also decide to trek up the 3 flights of steps, separated by level walking paths, up to the front porch, but I like the long walk around back. A second favorite parking spot is way out back, behind the house, past the yard, “up in the trees,” where I’ll park under one of my favorite trees, a beautiful blue spruce, with wide branches, perfect for parking underneath, especially if rain is forecast for the weekend. The third spot is up by the porch, and, sometimes, like this particular weekend, I’d just left the truck there. It is a shady spot as well, as, just beyond the truck, is a large bank, which is topped by several large spruce trees making the property border. The trees cover the entire property line, all the way to where the bank drops down to the street. I anxiously look forward to parking at any of these three places, because that means it’s not Winter. It is a big moment in the Spring when I can park outside … it is a statement of sorts, that Winter is finally over, and I can park outside! Only those who live up here know what I mean when I say we have a “Summer entrance” and a “Winter entrance,” meaning the steps going from the driveway to the porch. Of course … I could shovel all of the 25 steps, constantly throughout the Winter, but … I’m ok with just parking in the garage …
Anyway, it’s a really big deal to be able to park outside!
Back to the first Monday morning in November:
I knew that there had been a large storm, the power was out, and I had to wait until daylight to see if there was any wind damage. I could see from the porch that 3 of the sumac trees, down off the driveway were down … they were large enough to cover an area from the cedar tree, where I would have normally parked, to halfway across the driveway. We had lost some of these trees before in a wind storm, but this was more intense. Had I parked underneath the cedar, as usual, they would have landed on the truck.
Once it got to be daylight, I then was able to see beyond the truck, to the bank of trees. The last two trees in the row closest to the street had fallen … these were huge spruce trees … huge … and, they had landed … perfectly … between the truck and the bank. You just couldn’t place them any better. They had fallen, side-by-side … not down the bank (which would have gone through the house, crushing the truck, as well) … but, had fallen long-ways, along the center of the bank … perfectly between the house and truck, and the bank. The edge of the limbs had missed the side mirror of the truck by a few inches. Perfectly placed.
It was only when I was leaving the house, that I looked in the back yard, as I passed by the back garage door, and looked out its window: That beautiful blue spruce, which was my favorite tree, which I was so proud to park under, had been blown over. It had been uprooted by the high winds, and was stuck in the limbs of a tall pine tree, leaning over, waiting to complete its journey to the earth. If I had parked there, as I would normally have in the case of a rainy weekend like this one, it would have come down on top of the truck.
It is so true, that old saying we’ve all heard, especially in times of great anguish:
“Jesus doesn’t promise there won’t be storms. He promises that He will be with you in the storm.” Yet again … once again … I had to report, as I’ve done so often: If there was ever, any doubt that God’s hand was on me … this proves, beyond a doubt … How many times have I, and you, said the same thing? So often, we see God’s protection. This was just another great example.
I had to get to town to buy a chainsaw. For the first time, and I’ve seen some pretty bad storms up here, roads were blocked. A stream, on the way to where Carol works, had flooded, and I mean it was over the bridge, and across the road. No one I know had seen that before. There were other sights I saw which was a first was for me, and for those who had lived here their whole lives. I saw water up to windows. I saw streets become streams … but … I had to make it to Wal-Mart! Some may get offended by that statement, but please understand the humor there … I mean, we don’t have 100 stores to choose from. Often, we have no other stores to choose from … anyway, Walmart had no electricity, and the generators weren’t working, so they were closed. On to Tractor Supply! Tractor Supply was open, sort-of … their door was open, but they had no electricity. But, they had employees with flashlights, and could take cash or credit (no registers), using the old “slide” manual credit card “machine.” And … they had one chain saw left … not the brand I would have chosen, but a chain saw with a 22” bar!
So, I was able to clear the driveway of the sumac trees, that afternoon. The power finally came back on. I knew many who didn’t have electricity for a week, and, the damage from the storm was far-reaching and immense. I was blessed in so many ways. It would take me a couple of weeks to clear the big spruce trees from the bank, and, don’t you know … I had to do it between snow-storms (this was November, after all!). It would be the weekend of Thanksgiving before I could cut up the spruce trees from the bank. I made 9 beautiful stacks of split wood. The big, beautiful blue spruce in the back is still hanging on, suspended. There’s been too much snow to work on it, as I’ll need the truck to help “yank it,” which I’ll have to handle when Carol’s not around to witness. I have a plan, though … I’m glad she wasn’t there when the chain came off the saw, and landed in the middle of my right thigh!
In the meantime, that’s just an example of God’s protecting hand. There were other cases this past year, and, even a miracle or two which I experienced over the Christmas break, in the middle of all that record-breaking cold. But, for now, I’ll report this one incident, as I continue to wonder … what has God kept us from … that we don’t even know about?
Once again, I am so thankful to report that God’s promises are true. That there isn’t anything He can’t do. In any kind of weather. I’m thankful that we always have something (s) to be thankful for.
In any kind of weather.
Blessing to you, and your family,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.