Hunkerin’ Down

 

If watching the local news didn’t worry me enough my throbbing knees do.  Bone rubbing on bone from too many years of athletic abuse, I am usually able to control the pain with Voltaren gel and Tylenol Arthritis pain relief…not this morning.  My aching knees are much better predictors of impending violent low-pressure weather than any meteorologist.

My little piece of heaven is hunkering down awaiting a little piece of hell.  Violent weather has already killed two and it is on the way here.  Long lines of thunderstorms with predicted high winds and a worry that they may become circular in motion.

My home has weathered storms since 1892.  I have been privy to them since 1987 and we have dodged several weather bullets.  Whether tornadoes or straight-line winds, we have been a near miss or a glancing blow on many different occasions.  I haven’t cleared all the downed trees from our last brush with fate, this past winter’s ice storm.

The floors and cabinets found in the newer addition came from our first near miss.  An ancient pecan came down next to the house…followed by an ancient black walnut that blocked traffic for hours on Highway 11.  Later our renovator would turn them into pecan floors, black walnut cabinets, and countertops now gracing our home.  I’d just soon have left them upright and in the ground.

I just stepped out on to the porch.  The air is humid and the breeze tropical.  Every time the wind ceases, I wonder if this is the calm before the storm and check the color of the western sky.

A couple of decades after our first brush with fate, I arrive home one evening to thick, hot and humid, still air and a sky that had turned a brassy, sick green.  I took my bike off my car as nearby thunder rolled; I heard a locomotive coming over my western hilltops…there is no railroad beyond my western hilltops.

I barely made it inside and hunkered down in a hallway with my bride and two puppy dogs before all hell broke loose.  Thirty or so downed trees stacked like Pick Up Sticks in the nearby ravine greeted me the next morning along with a storage building ripped open by the falling top of a tulip poplar and a fence line smashed by a persimmon tree.

On the eastern side of the high rim of hills, the local camp, Lookup Lodge, found themselves trapped with their charges and spent a night without power, their escape routes blocked by downed trees.  My little piece of heaven had dodged another direct hit.

We have a wildlife wilderness filled with pecans, persimmon, black walnuts, hemlocks, tulip poplars, and oaks.  That’s just around the house.  We love them…most of the time…but not during the season of spring and summer storms.  Big tall trees that could easily reach us if they were to come down.   I can’t help but wonder if this will be the big one.

So, we are hunkered down watching the line of thunderstorms march from Atlanta on tv, keeping up with tornado alerts, making sure our cellphones are charged and water is taken up…just in case.  Sometimes I think I liked it better when we didn’t know…days before Doppler radar and other improvements in weather forecasting.

Those thrilling days of yesteryear when forecasting was “Red sky in morning, sailors take warning” or a falling barometer meant “Batten down the hatches matey, we’re in for a blow.”  Days when my knees didn’t ache so much…or at all.

I don’t wish ill on anyone so I don’t know what my prayers should be.  I guess I’ll pray for it all.  “Please keep everyone safe and undamaged.”  Just in case, make sure all of you in the line of fire are hunkered down someplace safe.  Wise men have said, “God takes care of those who take care of themselves.”  Please, “Take care of yourselves.”

Please follow Don Miller’s author’s page at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM.

Image from https://stockhead.com.au/resources/stormy-weather-washes-away-profits-at-alkane-resources/

 

 

 

Advertisements

A Quiet Before a Storm

 

Despite the overcast skies I decided to hike my old logging roads.  I needed to walk them, I haven’t since the snow apocalypse and the following high winds from before Christmas.  I wasn’t surprised or disappointed.  I have downed pine trees everywhere.  With a tractor and chainsaw, I will prevail…if the tractor runs. When I bought it back in the day, I was told: “nothing runs like a Deere.”  They lied…I guess John Deere even produces lemons on occasion.

I walked slowly up the incline, climbing over and ducking under downed trees along my route.  The three-hundred-foot elevation gain over about a third of a mile caused me to huff and puff a bit.  The temperature was noticeably cooler, the clouds seemed closer and denser.  The weather folk says it is going to be a minor winter event…my knee says maybe not.  Is there a difference between a single throbbing knee weather event and a double?

Stopping along the crest of a ridge to catch my breath, I was surprised at the quiet.  Just my inhalations were heard.  I fought to bring them under control…it seemed important.  Silent and still, not a hint of a breeze.  Even the hum from the distant four-lane seemed muted.  A quiet before a storm?  The birds seem to be hiding, as are the squirrels.  Not a chirp, not even the caw of a crow or a squirrel rustling the leaves disturbed the silence.

I continued to listen as I walked and searched the trees for movement.  There were signs.  Disturbed leaves from turkeys looking for seed or a grub.  The silent deer stands on the portion of my logging road that is not really mine.  They stood quietly, like empty watch towers…no game in sight.

Up to Chinquapin and then down to a second ridge crest.  I lost the old road for a moment and wondered what footprints my own feet might be following.  Five hundred years ago this was a Native American trading route.  It was still the land of the Cherokee, black bears, and the Carolina panther…today they have all had to make room for golfers and cyclist…and a moonshiner or two.

It is so quiet.  It is easy to walk and reflect on the thirty years I have resided here.  Reflections that make me smile…little that makes me frown.  While the Cherokee have moved north, the wildlife is still here…maybe they are reflecting too.  Reflecting on a quiet before a storm and the wonderful place they live.

For more reflections, rants or musings, https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

“Clearing Off Showers”

 

My beloved and I had what I call a “clearing off shower.”  Like most couples, we’ve had our ups and downs.  Luckily, more ups than downs, many more ups than downs.  Unfortunately, many more ups do not provide a soothing balm for the downs…neither did this “clearing off shower.”

We sometimes have violent thunderstorms rumbling and bouncing around in the hills and hollers of our little piece of heaven in the foothills of the Blue Ridge.  A lot of banging and flashing, wind bellowing and sometimes a lot “hunkering down” until they’re over.  When the storm is over the air is so fresh and the sky is so blue…until the air fills with humidity again, thunderheads forming to the northwest and we start the process over again….

My beloved and I are so different…well…in some ways.  I tend to ignore problems in hopes they will go away until they don’t.  She tends to obsess over the same problems I ignore.  She obsessed last night and was still obsessing this morning…and she had obsessed through the night, tossing and turning, allowing the “humidity” to build.

I awoke on the “wrong side of the bed” as did she.  A “clearing off shower” was inevitable.  The thunder rumbled, the lightning flashed, and storms raged far and wide.  The torrential downpour included issues not encompassing the original subject.  “Do you remember three months ago….”  Finally, the storm ebbed, the air was some clearer, the sky bluer…all before eight o’ clock in the morning.

Later as we drove to church she was quiet…unusual?  Sometimes.  I worried the humidity might be building and storm clouds might be gathering.  As luck would have it, the sermon was entitled “The Loving Marriage”, specifically Paul’s views on marriage from Ephesians 5: 22-25. (NIV)

“22: Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

23: For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

My beloved is not a fan of Paul’s views on women or should I say, men’s interpretation of Paul’s views on women.  She believes, and I agree, Paul’s interpretations have led to the misogyny prevalent in certain circles in times past…or today.  When the minister used the term “brazen” describing what a wife shouldn’t be, I tapped her shoulder and leaned in to whisper, “I hope you are paying attention.”  Her genuine smile along with the elbow to the ribs told me that the humidity might have broken.

I didn’t fall in love with or marry a “submissive” woman.  Life might have been easier, but it certainly would not have been as interesting.  I fell in love with a “brazenly” bold woman who is unashamed to be who she is.  I love her for it and would not have her any other way…most of the time.

Returning from a lunch at our little hole in the wall in the mountains, I noticed the increased humidity, the stiffening breeze from the northwest.  Thunder rumbled, echoing in the valleys of the foothills of the Blue Ridge.  As the rain began to fall I gave a small prayer of thanks.  The storm was raging outside, not inside.

Don Miller tells stories.  For more go to https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM