Getting Our Yard Back

We had a little disaster last weekend. A huge storm ripped through on Sunday afternoon just after 4 p.m., and it took down a 60-foot maple tree, which snapped and fell into our front yard. The tree brought down our power, phone, and Internet lines. In the middle of the night, a work crew with chainsaws arrived, restoring power almost exactly 12 hours after it went out. Phone and Internet were restored on Monday.

The tree left a great big mess for us to clean up, and we've been working on it ever since. I say "we," but for much of the week, it was my husband and a buddy of his, a neighbor who showed up with two chainsaws and other assorted implements, and a strong will to WORK. They chainsawed for much of Monday and Tuesday, and by the time I arrived home at end of work day on Tuesday, the bigger pieces had been cut up.

The yard was littered with branches and other detritus, and so on Saturday morning, in the cooler temperatures, my husband and I set to work. He chopped the branches into smaller pieces, and I dragged them off into the woods and made several brush piles that will provide winter cover for our birds. FIVE of them, to be exact. They are in the woods behind those two chairs.

He was the chopper and I was the dragger and stacker. Fortunately, as a child, I spent much of my time stacking stuff in the woods. I've been doing it since I was a toddler. Sometime in life, I just knew these skills would come in handy. TODAY WAS THAT DAY.

We worked for about three solid hours in the morning, and you know how it is when you've got a song stuck in your head? Yes, as I stacked, I sang. And the song was Prince's When Doves Cry. (Why? I have no idea Why. Is there ever really a Why for some things?)

"Dream, if you can, a courtyard, an ocean of violets in bloom," I sang, as I grabbed branch after branch. "Maybe I'm just too demanding," I added, as I stacked my wood. "Maybe I'm just like my father, too bold." I dragged more branches. I stacked more stuff. "Maybe you're just like my mother," I sang; "She's never satisfied." The piles grew taller. We started to see green grass again. Above is what it looked like when we were done.

Let me interrupt this tale of stacking and singing to tell you that it wasn't like some Disney movie, like you might be thinking, with helpful dwarves and elves and what-not. It was just two people working like crazy, trying to get "normal" back.

And we joke all the time about how when I bought the house, the little ad talked about "easy living in the country." Easy living, how we laughed! I gotta get me some of THAT! My husband added his own perspective: "If you can survive out here married to a country girl, you WILL get stronger."

I have talked about my oldest sister Barb here, and how she got sick, and then miraculously got well, and then got sick again, and sadly died in July of this year. Well, there is a solar light that we have had in the yard for years, that my husband has always called "the Barb-light." It lights in the most dire of conditions. It out-lasts everything else: even my sister, apparently.

Well, the Barb-light somehow disappeared during our disaster. It was in the yard cart at one point in time. (You can see my old yard cart in this photo, in front of our little shed - it's green, and it was one of the first things I ever bought when I bought the house in the summer of 2004. It's been a real work horse but we cracked it this week, again, and I taped it up pretty good, but its days just might be numbered. To be sure, we've gotten our money's worth out of it.)

Anyway, as we finished cleaning up the last of the piles in this part of the yard, my husband found and picked up the Barb-light, and put it back together, and stuck it in the yard by the trees that line our road. "There!" he said, as he placed it: one more bit of normalcy restored. And in the evening, as dusk fell, the Barb-light lit up. No, it didn't shine brightly, but it lit all the same.

I would like to add some thoughts about marriage, and about perspective, and about hard work. I think that when two people want to get married, we should make them go through one of these challenging life experiences together FIRST:

*live through a week with no running water,

*survive an ice storm that takes out the power for several days,

*do clean-up after a natural disaster.

These experiences will teach you what you are made of, and show you whether you are compatible enough to survive the tough times together. For better or for worse, as they say. And there is lots of better. But I am here to tell you that sometimes there is lots of WORSE.

And as I type this, on the next morning, my shoulders hurt, my arms are tired and scraped-up, several of my left foot's toes are tingling, and even my ankles are sore. YES, MY ANKLES. How does that even happen? And yes, there is another half of the yard to do, and it has the HEAVY stuff on it! Gird your loins, my friends, for here we go again!

But me? Maybe I'm just too demanding. Maybe I'm just like my father, too bold. Maybe you're just like my mother . . . she's never satisfied. Why do we scream at each other? This is what it sounds like . . . when doves cry.

The soundtrack song is this one, of course: Prince, with When Doves Cry.

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