Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Mary Alice Powell

Storm taught a lesson about the power of nature

Pick Up Sticks was a fun game way back when. I don't remember the rules, only that the colorful sticks came in a tin can - not plastic - and that the game required patience and calm hands as you picked up one stick at a time, very carefully, without disturbing surrounding ones.

People who have trees on their property know there is another "pick up sticks" game. It is the one that is magnified after a windstorm. The higher the winds, the more sticks you get to pick up. After the July 3 storm there were more sticks and branches in all sizes on my two acres than I care to remember, or to ever have to pick up again.

Although the storm that whirled through the north end of Posey Lake was minuscule compared to the disasters in many parts of the country, it was an awakening. Perhaps it was more thought-provoking than it was destructive. To wake up to see utter chaos on the lawn after a holiday celebration with friends the day before was shocking.

To see the 12-foot screen house in which we had enjoyed drinks and food the day before blown away in several directions was unbelievable. Only hours before, the men in our party had grilled ribs and vegetable kabobs under the green-and-white-striped gazebo. Now it was upside down with more broken braces than whole ones. I was able to order replacements, but the cost was almost as much as the gazebo was in the first place.

I loved the screen house. It was so much a part of my summer at the lake, with the wicker furniture and begonias contributing to a homey outdoor setting. It was the perfect setting for appetizers before dinner or dessert and coffee afterward. The storm left the chairs overturned and the cushions on the antique wicker rockers stained and heavy with water. Maybe I can find a similar screen house on eBay. They say everything is on the Internet. We'll see.

So this is what happens when strong winds and heavy rain team up for an attack, I thought. How fortunate we are that a tornado passed over Posey Lake when one was spotted, according to a newscaster, two weeks earlier. I was thankful for a basement to stay in for an hour or so that night and took the opportunity during the wait to do the ironing.

The last storm apparently was not a tornado, but 70-miles-an-hour winds that tore through the neighborhood, taking down a large willow tree next door and several large branches from my trees, moving the furniture, and splattering grass, leaves, and mud on the porch wall.

It takes an insurance claim to discover the rules about what is covered and what isn't. Trees are not covered unless the whole trees are uprooted. Large branches that break off and fall only part of the way or to the ground are the insurer's responsibility.

I felt worse about the birds' nests that were flung to the ground than I did for the lost branches. Fortunately there are still a few unoccupied birdhouses in the trees. Perhaps the families that lost their home nests can relocate to comfortable quarters. Birdseed stations are included with the free rent.

As I emphasized, the destruction was minor compared to the national tornado and hurricane news. But there were similarities, and one was the old adage about neighbors helping neighbors.

Early the next morning, when I was having a second cup of coffee and wondering "Why me?" neighbors Sue Dubendorfer and Joan Newbury walked into the yard. Could they help? Such neighborliness puts the sunshine in a stormy day.

Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor.

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