This past Friday, strong storms caught much of our geographic area by surprise. With wind gusts of up to 80 mph and fierce thunderstorms ripping through, millions of us were left without power and with a big mess to clean up. Toppled trees and downed branches crushed homes and cars, claiming a handful of lives. Here, we could have build an in-law suite with the amount of branches that were left in our yard.
As we heard the storm approaching and the power was knocked out, we quickly gathered the family and headed to the basement. While I’m sure this completely frightened Big Sister, who had been living with us under one week at this point, she put on a face of courage as I am sure she has to do many times before, for situations far graver than high winds and downed power lines. The other kids were half asleep, half awake, and I headed to the window (I know, bad idea) to watch in awe as lightening lit up the dark sky more brightly than any street light ever could. I watched branches topple and our neighbor’s tree come crashing down on our fence. I listened to the wind gust more ferociously than I had ever heard. Each time a surge came through, I took a deep breath and reassured the kids that we would be fine. We stayed in the basement close to an hour and waited for the storm to move out before returning to our beds. I was certain the power would return before morning and we headed to back to sleep.
When morning came, the power was still out and in full daylight we were able to observe the extent of the damage. Thankfully, our only damage was an old fence that separates our yard from our neighbor to the rear. Around the neighborhood, there were damaged roofs, crushed cars, and impassable streets. By 8:30 am, we learned of two fatalities close by. Everyone in the neighborhood was outside, amazingly with smiles on their faces, and willing to lend a helping hand as needed. As the day went on and power was yet to be restored, I was taking in the moments and mentally filing away some awesome lessons from the day. Here are some of the things I learned:
- When our lives are forced to a halt, there is so much joy in sharing the time and experience with those around us. Regardless of lacking power and ridiculously high (or low, in the winter) temperatures, most people rally around each other and help to meet each other’s needs. And it is joyful! Why don’t we do this more often in day-to-day living?
- Everyone was using the tools and skills they had to help one another. Those with power tools and chainsaws helped clear paths and cut up large tree branches. Some brought out drinks and refreshments. We all gathered outside and worked and chatted and accomplished what needed to get done.
- I believe a lot of us secretly and not so secretly enjoy these occasions to unplug. With no internet, cell, or electricity, we have no choice but to either enjoy each other’s company and/or a low-tech activity. Yesterday, we played board games, card games, and activities outside; I read some of my material for the Fall semester and caught up on the world news.
- Kids seek each other out more when there is no incentive to plop on the couch. Pretty much every kid in our neighborhood was either outside or in the house of another family. They all looked happy. I did not hear one complaint from any kid about lack of power. Why is that? I believe that it is because there is so much joy to be found in community. There is something so instinctive about connecting with one another and with nature.