(This is a long one – you’ve been warned)
“Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.” - Edward Sandford Martin
Last week a giant wind storm hit our city. Well, our entire county, actually. It was an unusual storm for our area with winds up to 102. We don’t normally get hurricane strength winds here. Even though we are used to getting a couple good windstorms a year (usually 1 in the spring and 1 in the fall) strong enough to displace shingles and siding, with the occasional fence needing repaired we aren’t used to it shaking the entire house so much you felt like it was an earthquake that just kept going on and on… for hours and hours. It was exhausting. Impossible to sleep through. I did manage to sneak in a nap for a couple hours Thursday morning after laying in bed with my eyes closed, trying to convince myself I was on a cross-country vacation - traveling by train, and it was just the normal movements and sounds of the train I was hearing as it scuttled me away to some place fabulous.
The power had been knocked out in the wee hours of the morning while it was still dark, wind blowing hard. Our drafty little house was pretty cold. The wind was still going at it. I called the school attendance line and let them know that even though the closure line indicated school was still open, my kids would not be there – I was not about to let them out the door with all the flying debris. I’m glad we still have one of those old-fashioned phones in the house that plugs into the wall. I knew it was a good idea to keep it around. (School was officially cancelled a couple hours later).
After the storm, we surveyed the damage. We lost some shingles – thankfully not too bad considering the roof was just redone a couple months ago. The chimney hood needs to be replaced. There were some other minor losses like my garden trellis, but all in all we came out with really minor damage. Most of our neighbors did not fare so well. One house in our neighborhood lost a good portion of its roof – plywood and all. The insulation was popping out like tissue paper from a gift bag. Trees were down everywhere. Nearly all fences were either completely gone or severely damaged. Houses had exposed ply-wood from where shingles, tar paper and even siding had been.
Semi trucks were on their side along the frontage road near our house and on the freeway.
That was a solid brick fence, reduced to a pile of rubble by the force of the tree and wind.
This is what a good portion of the trees now looked like.
It may sound like I am complaining. I’m actually not. It’s times like these when I get to witness amazing things.
When the wind was still blowing, but not super hard anymore, my oldest, the teenager across the street and my next door neighbor’s daughter all got together. They were all going a little stir- crazy. No school - they loved that. No power – not so much. So we let them go for a walk to see what havoc had been done. They retrieved some garbage, recycling and trash cans belonging to their families from the park where they had been blown. Then we saw them bringing other garbage and debris from around the neighborhood and park and throwing it in the cans until they were full. They helped stack debris from sheds and fences into piles – all without being asked. You don’t see that often from 14 year olds.
Afterwards, they all headed to my neighbors house where they dug out board games. This may not seem like a huge deal, but I am really grateful that my son enjoyed this time with them. He’s at an age where he doesn’t have a lot of non plugged-in interaction with other kids. In addition, we have only been here for a year, so he’s still getting to know people. He’s missing Washington and his friends there a lot lately. It was good to see him connecting more with new friends here, outside of school.
It was also awesome to see the entire community pull together in clean up efforts. We live a few houses from the city ball park. On Friday morning the parking lot was full of trees brought in by trucks, wheel barrows, and people pulling them by hand. They were being tirelessly fed into a mulcher. By the end of the day, there was only a pile of mulch left. This is the same parking lot again on Sunday:
Full of trees again. Also full of people coordinating traffic and unloading trucks for strangers into organized (but HUGE) piles.
I didn’t get a picture, but the girls in the neighborhood got together and made cookies and delivered them to all the volunteers. There was, and still is, a big sense of community as everyone I see comes together in clean- up efforts. I am reminded of one of the reasons we wanted to move back here so much. There really is no better community to live in, that I know of.
So today, even though it’s not Thanksgiving day any longer I am thankful for so much.
I am thankful we are home.
I am thankful for good friends for both Chris and I, and for our kids.
I am thankful for family and the chance to give them a hot meal and enjoy their company.
I am thankful for electricity.
I am thankful for our home and warm beds.
I am thankful for food storage, and the security of knowing my family will not go hungry during an emergency.
I am thankful my family is healthy.
I am thankful for heat in the winter time, and for a fireplace when the electricity can’t do the job.
I am thankful that we are mostly prepared for an emergency, and the chance to learn where the holes are in our plan, to fix them. (I bought an indoor stove after the storm, since my emergency cooking solutions all required being able to cook outdoors – you can’t do that in 90 mph winds)
I am thankful that when my child asked me what we were going to do if the power was out for a week, I could tell her confidently that we would be just fine, and detail why to help relieve her worry.
I am thankful for great neighbors.
I an thankful for the internet, computers and other modern conveniences. Yes, I can live without them, but I wouldn’t want to!
I am thankful for board games, cards, and building forts in the living room with mounds of blankets.
I am thankful for the holiday season.
I am thankful that I have the means to give.
My heart is full right now with gratitude for my life and every facet of it. I know I am fortunate. I know I am blessed. I know I don’t deserve it. I know there are so many others out there that don’t have as comfortable a life as I do.