Posted by: highmountainmuse | March 23, 2009

The calm after the storm

Feeling the calm before the storm...

Feeling the calm before the storm...

Often we speak of the calm before the storm, referring to that state of waiting with the exciting hint of anticipation. But now I consider the feeling that comes over us when the storm has passed.  The calm after the storm.  The release, the relief, the complete letting go. The slow, deep exhale as you let your eyes close and your shoulders relax…

 

For now, I am in the storm.  The wind is blowing.  Does it blow so hard elsewhere in the spring?  The wind can be troublesome, destructive, unforgiving. The cold, the snow, the rain… these can be uncomfortable, but they don’t send me running for shelter as the wind will do. It is a powerful force. It draws your energy, stirs up agitation. It is exhausting to battle, and I always lose.

 

We knew the storm was coming.  You could see it in the dark clouds circling above our little bit of mountain.  The horses probably knew it, because they came to the barnyard earlier, nickering for dinner.  I could not resist.  As I began to feed, the wind hit.  It whipped up the only dry dirt on the mountain, the dried up dusty trampled soil around the barn yard, and twisted it in the air 20 feet above the horses and me, all of us caught in the middle of this swirling brown gritty squall.  Horses too are bothered by wind, and the forceful blowing, whipping up the earth around them, sent them into a frenzy, running, kicking, bucking, probably all as blinded as me, standing there in the middle with an arm full of hay.  I looked for shelter.  To my south was a little run in shed that had already been blown over once by a wind storm, this time last spring.  To the north was the big hay shed, and I swear I watched as the front corner was lifted up six inches.  I chose not to move, and stood there paralyzed amidst the forceful, blinding blowing.  Bob and Forrest were calling to me from the porch but I could not hear them, and could barely see them through the swirling dust. As the wind lessened temporarily, I scattered the hay, only to watch it blow away, but enough remaining on the ground to provide a relief, a distraction and  comfort for the horses, as food will do.  I promised them more when the wind dies down, and left for the shelter of my cabin.

 

I am in here now, warmed by the fire and safe within our heavy log walls.  Around me, the wind still blows.  In the last light of the day, a pale yellowy grey muted glow that it is in this wind storm, the horses are still running around, still bothered, agitated by the winds, blowing at their nerves as it blows as the dry dirt.

 

I assume the wind will continue like this all night.  It’s one of those nights like the one that blew the chicken away.  I know I will not sleep well.  I will listen for trees falling.  I will look out side in the complete darkness (for there is no moon tonight) for the silhouette of the sheds to see that they are still intact.  I will check on the horses, especially Tres, who is due to foal so soon… I will worry.

 

And in the morning, after a fitful sleep, the storm will have passed.  I will sit at the kitchen table with my coffee, let out a deep breath, close my eyes, lean back, and savor the calm after the storm.

 

And now, it is morning.  It is calm.  The wind has been replaced by snow.  The gentle, soothing, placid blanket to quiet the mountain after the uproar she once again endured… Putting the horses, the soil, the land, and me all at a peaceful ease. The calm after the storm.

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Responses

  1. Once again I could feel the powerful wind surrounding me as I read. My whole body was tense trying to hang on! I remember camping in a tent in strong winds and there surely was no sleep then either. The small tent stayed in the ground, although I don’t know how and I can remember vividly how the sides of it kept noisily shifting in and out, thrashing against me and I couldn’t wait for morning to come.

    Wind and rushing water…two of the most powerful things on earth.

  2. Tents are the worst in wind, aren’t they? I shiver remember nights where we wondered if we’d be lifted up and away like Dorothy in Kansas! Forrest and I lived in one for half a year when he was a baby.

  3. nobody likes the wind,but glad to hear you are getting some snow.

  4. This may sound completely insane, but I’ll say it anyway.
    Here in so Cal, we got wind yesterday too. It blew palm fronds down and into the street. It lifted the umbrella from the hole of our patio table, then brought it down again, shattering the glass of the table into a million shards. It overturned trash barrels and blew a few wings backwards on the ducks at the local park.
    Doesn’t sound too dangerous, does it. It wasn’t.
    I have to laugh sometimes. When it rains, the local news puts us on “STORM WATCH!” OMG!
    Then you hear them say things like, “Well, folks, batten down the hatches. It looks like another late winter storm is going to SLAM into the southland. Watch for local FLOODING. Mudslides may TERRIFY people SURVIVING in the burnout areas…” It goes on and on with these exaggerated adjectives meant to turn a spring shower into a major disaster. It’s accompanied by computer generated lightning bolts and disaster-movie orchestral music full of bass drums and violins. Then you find out we’re getting a FULL 1/2 inch of rain!!! Uh….yeah.
    Southern California also refers to creeks (PROPERLY pronounced “cricks” by those who know better) as RIVERS. A rain shower is a POUNDING STORM. Uh huh.
    Well….my point. I’m from PA, and we don’t get the magnitude of weather events that other areas of the US get. But you know, we at least know what a CREEK is. It’s not a RIVER. And a spring shower isn’t a POUNDING DELUGE. (Although out here, we’re built on sand, so when trickles reach the bottom of the hills, they DO move a bit of mud!)
    My first point…where you live, creeks are creeks and storms are storms and a river is a river. No exaggeration. So when you described this sandstorm, I knew it was the real thing. How refreshing.
    Second…In a heartbeat….I would trade my safe little shattered table, my discarded palm fronds, and my overturned trash barrels for your experience in the windstorm. Why? Because when the storm dies, there IS the calm. With no storm, what meaning would the calm have?
    So much more goes with your storms. Magnificent skies, pure clean water, air that’s so clean it’s almost paletably sweet…so much more.
    There would have been however, one downside if I’d been there. When I finally got inside I’d have had to spend an hour or so plucking the dirt out of my teeth….you’ve heard the story of the happy motorcyclist, right? That would have been me…crazy, huh?
    John Muir, the great adventurist who explored Yosemite, was on a hike once. He was caught clinging to the side of a cliff as a very strong earthquake hit. I know I would have been terrified. His response was elation and excitement. He exclaimed, “A Good, Strong earthquake!” He embraced it.
    Realistically, I know it would have been a (pardon the pun) a hair-raising experience for me being caught in that windstorm. I would have half expected to be lifted right along with the dirt. But I know another thing too…I’d have traded places with you in a heartbeat for all the things before the storm and after it. Blessings! Elaine

  5. Just as frightening as the wind in wide open expanses as you described, I can remember strong wind in NYC and downtown Chicago where it took all your strength to keep from being blown from the sidewalk out into the traffic.

    Makes me think, too, how unbelievably scary it must be to live through a tornado!

  6. Elaine, you may think I’m crazy, but I don’t think it matters where we are from. NYC, Chicago, Pennsylvania, Colorado, California… there is beauty to be found everywhere, there are good folks everywhere. Everywhere, we are all deep down the same. We have a common thread within all of us. We are all capable of finding the beautiful wherever we are, it is just easier in obviously pretty places, like here in the mountains. But perhaps, the harder we have to look for it, the more powerful and meaningful it is. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We should challenge ourselves to find it every day, in every person, everywhere we are. Despite the obvious beauty around me, it still remains a challenge for me.

  7. I sure don’t think you’re crazy! I agree with you. A couple of my blogs point out that we all need to seek the silver lining in all this economy crisis stuff, but I don’t point the finger back at myself enough and try to find the silver lining in the PEOPLE around me.
    You’re so right…..
    I’m just glad you and the horses didn’t get lifted and tossed!

  8. YOUR WIND MUST HAVE STARTED HERE . IT BLEW OVER A DOZEN POWER POLES ON TOP OF CAR PORTS AN CARS. EVERYONE PANICKED .NO POWER !! WE JUST FIRED UP OIL LAMPS, GOT OUT SOME GOOD BOOKS. WE WERE READING AND KICKED BACK . NOTHING YOU CAN DO JUST WAIT FOR IT TO END AND THEN CLEAN UP . WE DIDN’T GET MUCH DAMAGE, JUST TREES AND BROKEN LIMBS. A LITTE TRIM UP AND CLEAN UP AND GOOD AS NEW. OUR CAR WAS MISSED . THAT WOULD HAVE UPSET ME . I’VE HAD THE SAME OLD BUICK FOR OVER 30 YEARS . LIKE THE DOG ITS FAMILY. MY WORST FEARS WOULD HAVE BEEN THE ANIMALS. LIKE FINDING THE LITTLE WHITE HEN 5 MILES AWAY LOOKING FOR HOME AND HER PLACE OF SAFETY ON THE BACK PORCH. LIKE, MOM AND DAD I’M HERE COME GET ME. LOOKING FORWARD TO MORE STORIES.
    MAKES LIFE BEARABLE

  9. Don, I think you ended up with a worse wind storm than we had. But sounds like you were prepared, and hopefully enjoyed the return to the simple life, albeit short lived!


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