Ice, Snow, Devastation and a Kazoo Band

There are moments in your life that you never forget. When I am old and wrinkled and more gray even than I am now, I will remember this week with tears, with smiles, and, possibly, with laughter.

My son asked me if, like with hurricanes, they name Midwestern Ice Storms. I told him that we didn’t rate that high on the weatherman’s scale.

“But it’s so bad!” he pointed out.

“Yes, it is,” I replied with a wry smile.

It really is so bad.

April usually is a time to anticipate bulbs poking out of the earth, to dig out asparagus recipes, to watch the daily progression of the leaves on the trees, the birds returning to the upper Midwest.

Not this year.

For those who don’t know, Tuesday night, April 9th, 2013, Worthington, Minnesota and the surrounding area experienced a terrible ice storm which left about 1.5 inches of ice on the trees, followed by 8+ inches of snow on Wednesday night. I live out in the country on ten acres of trees and stream and farmland. We lost electricity Tuesday night. Still don’t have it back as of Saturday afternoon. We have a generator – a reliable one – as of Friday night. The one we had, which came with our house 8 years ago, had never been put to the test before. Sure, we’d used it a few times for a few hours – but nothing like this.

It failed the test.

So finally, last night, my husband forked over $700 for a brand-new (and much quieter) one, so that we can have heat and toilets that flush and food that won’t give us food poisoning.

Can’t wash our clothes. Can’t run the dishwasher. No internet. No TV. (My son’s comment on these terrible facts: “Mom, what did you and Dad DO all day when you were kids?”)

But all of that pales in comparison with what’s happened outside of our windows.

Total tree devastation. It’s a war zone, a bombing site, an unrecognizable horizon.

And no, I have no photos for you yet – not until I get power back and can download all of my photos onto my PC. I’m in town right now, at my favorite hang-out, BenLees Café. It’s a refuge here from the sadness out my window.

My kids have named all of their favorite trees. There’s the Hosanna Tree, so named because its leaves resemble the palm fronds on Palm Sunday. (I think it will survive.) There’s the Shady Tree aka the Climbing Tree. It’s our favorite. My girls and I cried yesterday when we stood in front of it. I don’t think there’s any way it will survive. And then there’s Mr. and Mrs. Maple Tree – Mrs. Tree is doomed. Mr. Tree might make it – but it looks like he got a terrible hair cut.

And then there are 100 more trees – give or take – which have suffered the indignities of a very angry giant stomping through our yard and tearing twigs and branches off and throwing them willy-nilly all over the yard.

At least that’s what it feels like.

And sounded like.

Oy, vey, the sounds of the crackling ice when you stood outside in the silence of zero electricity. It was almost like running water, only then you realized that everything was frozen and it was just the constant crack of ice on trees as they blew in the wind.

And the sounds indoors: nothing. Utter, unimaginable, silence.

Until the generator goes on!

But there have also been sounds of laughter. Of a fire in the grate, of games played, of a Kazoo Band, and of 30 year old cassettes wallowing on my 30 year old tape player. (“Turn it off, Mom! It’s creepy!”)

And then there was the sound of tree limbs tearing, of thunder smashing right overhead, of a little girl learning to tie her shoes, running to tell Daddy when he walked in the door and his exclamations of pride.

Yes, I will look back on this with tears and smiles someday.

Someday.

PS – I will have photos for you – probably more than you could ever hope for – as soon as I can. I’m sure I’ll write more about it, too. There is so much to process – to think through and put into words – I know I’m not yet finished.

2 thoughts on “Ice, Snow, Devastation and a Kazoo Band

  1. SO aptly put Gretchen! I have been mourning the loss of so many trees, but no one has really said anything. It feels a little better just to hear someone else put their sorrow into words. My Estonian friend lost her mother to cancer on Wednesday, so I’m trying to put our loss into perspective, but it’s still tough to look out the window.

    • Yes, Paula – you understand! And you’re right that we have to put this into perspective – it’s just hard when you know how long it takes those trees to grow. But yes…not lives lost and that’s fantastic. I’m hearing about eye injuries, though – people need to protect their eyes when working with those downed branches.

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