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02 September 2011 @ 10:43 pm
So earlier this week I spoke with my brother, Mike, in St. Louis. His family, along with my parents, had returned to our hometown in Buffalo, New York. It was a week-long trip in order to visit friends and family. The drive takes about 14 hours, depending upon how willing you are to gamble on being issued a speeding ticket in Ohio.

Upon their return, my niece Isabel started kindergarten. Unfortunately, she didn’t have much time to recover from the long trip, and was not being cooperative in going to bed on time. This led to a very cranky Isabel when she had to get up early for school.

It was a warm, bright morning when my brother drove Isabel to her second day of school. Unfortunately, her disposition was not as sunny. She began complaining about how tired she felt. Mike proceeded to tell her that she should remember how she feels right now, so that when he tells her to go to bed at night, she should listen – and then she wouldn’t feel as bad as she does at this moment. Isabel looked up at him in the mirror, and then became silent, apparently mulling it over.

A little while later, Mike hears whispering in the back seat. Isabel was repeating something, over and over. So, he asks her what she is saying. She says, “I’m saying thank you to all the trees because they provide us shade from the bright sun.” So, as each tree went by, she continued to whisper “Thank you, tree.”

Oddly enough, this trait is held by several of us in the family, mainly my father and I… I think my mom as well. We tend to speak with nature, both plant and animal, even when in the car. For example, every morning my route takes me by some cows, which requires the mandatory shout-out “Hello Girls!” So when my brother told me this story, I have to admit I was a little bit proud. Isabel is a girl after my own heart.

While Mike and Cynthia are handling their little forces of nature, we have dealt with a few of our own here on the east coast. Earlier this week was the earthquake, now the past few days have been Hurricane Irene. Admittedly, I did not know what to expect with Irene. This was my first hurricane experienced while living by Chesapeake Bay. Coincidentally, Hurricane Isabel was quite damaging to this area. There was a possibility that Irene would be almost as destructive.

It started yesterday morning with the birds. Hundreds of black birds came out of nowhere, and began flying past our house. First they landed in a patch of land across the way. Then they moved further down. It seemed as though they couldn’t make up their mind where to go. Then they were gone and the rain began. Both wind and rain picked up in speed throughout the day. Our power began to flicker, on… off… on… off. Then finally at midnight, it went off for good.

Everything was pitch black outside. Without power, there was no A/C, so it became necessary to open the windows in order to let in some air. I found it a bit unnerving to hear what was going on outside, yet not be able to see it. Living in a secluded area, we have so many large, old trees around us. You could hear the creaking and cracking as their old bones tried to withstand the younger, stronger winds. At one point, there was a very loud snapping and a thud, and we knew a tree or large limb had reached its limit and fell to the ground.

I did have a hard time going to sleep, being fearful that the large oak tree in front would drop a limb on our house. This past winter, one did hit our house, just missing the windows and only damaging the gutter. It wasn’t a far reach to think it could happen again, but with more severe consequences. In order to get some sleep, I went to the guest room at the other end of the house where the windows were closed and there was less chance of a tree falling on me.

So now it is 7:41 a.m. Sunday morning and I have just woken up. There still continues to be some gusts of wind, but the bulk of the storm has passed. Immediately I look outside and assess the damage from Hurricane Irene. I am amazed by the amount of debris and small tree limbs all around. At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be any major damage in our immediate vicinity. The old oak tree out front has weathered another storm, and left us intact. Full of relief I then whisper, “Thank you, tree”.

Addendum: This was written the morning of August 28th, 2011. Unfortunately, as a result of Hurricane Irene, we have been without power and internet until just yesterday.
Emotional Status: thankfulthankful
Music du Juor: http://www.last.fm/music/The+Shins/_/Sleeping+Lessons