Monday, March 6, 2023

After the Storm Passed Through

 I was awake before 6 this Monday morning and too restless to consider trying for another hour of sleep. The nearly full moon was sliding down the western horizon, visible from my window, while through my half open bedroom door I could see the first light of day slanting through the blinds, splaying out in streaks across the floor.

I dressed quietly and tip-toed to the kitchen followed by the inevitable retinue of cats. 
Sunday had been warm--still 56 F at 10 p.m. so the wood fire was allowed to go out, with the mini-split set to counter early morning chill. 
Interestingly, the outside temp  at 7 a.m. when I thought to look, was 57 F. 
I opened the door for several cats to amble out and was captivated by the flush of color that heralded the sun's appearance.

We were blessed to have very minimal damage from Friday's horrendous wind that left many without electrical power. 
It was a strange day, a time when one is thoroughly at the mercy of the elements.
Rain fell fitfully through Thursday night and thunder rattled about just before Friday daybreak. Jim kept watch of the doplar map and it appeared the predicted high winds might move north of us. I had an early afternoon errand in neighboring Russell Springs and noted fast-moving dark clouds at noon. Jim wasn't busy and offered to drive. He tuned the car radio to a local station which kept interrupting programing with storm warnings. Errands hurriedly done, we headed back through torrents of lashing rain, yet as we approached home the sun burst through a patch of blue while in the other direction black clouds boiled.

The wind continued to increase, roaring through the bare trees bordering the ravines on the north and south of our property. I stood at the east windows fretting as the wind ripped fresh pink blossoms from my hybrid magnolia trees. A panel from our small lean-to greenhouse was flung onto the ground. I ran out to salvage it, attempting to wrestle it inside the woodshed. The force of the wind was astonishing.
Just before dark I noticed that it had been tossed out again. J. battled his way out and over-turned his wheelbarrow on the panel; by morning the panel had been borne away, as J. ruefully stated, probably into the next county.
Although our electricity flickered several times, it didn't go out. By morning we would learn of power outages throughout the area with many homes and  businesses reconnected late today, others still without. Property damage has been severe in some areas. Such forces of nature seem mindlessly random--quite beyond human resources to prevent.

 At intervals during Friday evening the howling of the wind paused for a few seconds only to resume with manic force until nearly midnight.

Next morning all was serene, the sky deeply blue, a few white clouds hovering benignly. The air was still, birds chirped and flittered. Except for a scattering of small tree limbs along the lane--and the missing greenhouse panel--at least at our homestead there was little to suggest the violent weather of the preceding day.

We had word that church was cancelled, checked in with family and friends. Many were without electricity. Howard was dealing with downed trees and water over the bridge that crosses the 
mis-named Dry Creek that flows between their property and the road.
We walked our boundary lines, noting the limbs that would need to be cleared away. I found magnolia petals had been plastered into the rough grass beyond the veg garden and even past the bend of the lane. 

During the years in our native Vermont, power outages were not uncommon, usually a feature of winter ice and snow. We take electricity for granted--the flick of a switch creating light; the hum of the fridge; the micro-wave, toaster, electric range. 
In Vermont we had a propane range, here, although an electric range is the economical choice, we have our woodstove for heat. We have an old-fashioned percolator, a teakettle, a pantry stocked with food that could be heated on the wood stove.  
As the song says, 'Country Folks Can Survive!'
We are blessed to have come through the storm unscathed. My heart goes out to those who are dealing with leaking roofs, trees down on vehicles or crashed into houses.

I spent much of today working outside, lured by what may prove to be a deceptively false spring.
Trees are budding. 

Clematis 'Candida' is rampaging up the trellis. I had to snip away some tendrils that had been blasted by the wind. It is interesting to notice that several of my clematis are in active growth while others are just breaking dormancy.

I worked in the back garden for hours. This sage plant is showing new growth. Below it the white-flowered buddleia is alive, a few shoots poking out at the base of the shrub. No signs of life on the usually exuberant purple one. I gave it another pruning but have little hope that it survived the brutal cold between Christmas and the New Year.

I tackled the mounds of thyme planted at the base of the large trellis; a tangle of dead stems, a few sprigs of lemon thyme showing life, a mat of English thyme which may revive.

Of my three David Austin roses, 'The Poet's Wife' nearest the house wall, is putting out fresh leaves. 'Queen of Denmark' has two stalks showing life but dead wood that needed cutting back.
At the outer-most edge of the planting is Roald Dahl, looking poorly. This is a rose that sprawls untidily, needing pruning several times during the summer. It has been the most floriferous of the three, recovering quickly when the dreaded Japanese beetles have subsided for another season. The rose/peach blooms are semi-double with silky petals and a warmly sweet scent. I will be pleased if there is enough life for the bush to revive--but I am not optimistic. 

I worked on, past the point where my body was suggesting I quit. I cleaned up the crowns of foxglove, pleased to find new growth on one which had played dead. I gouged out weeds, moved a coneflower that had popped up where it didn't belong, salvaged a phlox from the rough strip along the lane. 
I admit that by this time I was wandering from one garden spot to another, inwardly groaning that even this early in the season the encroaching weeds are beyond me. 
Monarda has spread from the rough strip into the grass--where it will be ruthlessly mowed by J. if I don't rehome it. The shrub roses hastily interred there when we moved from the farm are in need of attention. A clump of Michaelmas daisies are ready to divide. 

I don't anticipate conquering the weeds or creating tidy well-planned gardens, but there it is--flowers are a necessity of my life, so I will likely keep pruning and digging.
It is truly a losing battle, one that increasingly I lack the stamina to win.

The day of the storm.

Hybrid magnolia, 'Jane.'

Although labeled 'Jane' this one is more likely 'Susan.'

Pansies near the front steps.

'The Poet's Wife' surrounded by foxglove, nepeta, pinks--and of course, weeds.



  1. Ah, you and I are in a similar state with sprawling gardens and too much of a weed to flower imbalance! Not to mention waning energy levels. Oh your poor Magnolias - beaten up badly by that storm just when they were looking their best. I hope that the Roses all reward you this summer, even Rohald Dahl who is struggling. Here it is Gabriel Oak and I think I may need to dig him up and replant him somewhere he'll be happier. Ditto for Clematii in planters - only one is happy and the others sulking! They like to have cool roots in the soil.

    Hoping you can rope in Gina to come and help in the garden. I book my kids regularlyto come and help, then they get here and it rains!

  2. I heard about the wild weather your area received. Thankfully you didn't have too much damage.
    When I come to your blog I find myself scrolling through the names and pictures of your cats. Robert looks very much like my Miss Kitty.
    Granny Marigold

  3. I'm glad to hear that you didn't suffer too much damage in the storm. I follow the weather forecasts and think about my blogging friends whenever storms come their way. It's always a bit sad to go out in springtime and see the plants we lovingly nurtured not make it through the winter. The magnolia tree is so pretty - I hope it wasn't damaged too much. I gave up on trying to pull weeds. Now I grow groundcovers and wildflowers and go by the old saying, 'One person's weeds are another's wildflowers.' *Grin* x K