After the storm
Friday, March 10, 2017 7:32 AM
It was a warm day, actually an amazingly warm day for the first of March. I felt quite comfortable in a short- sleeved shirt, and I was not even that surprised to see quite a few folks uptown wearing shorts and sandals as I ran my errands.
It seemed as though the old saying about March coming in like a lion, really was going to hold true this year.
I returned to the creek, and as I made my evening rounds gathering the chicken eggs and closing up the ducks and pigeons, I paused to listen to the wind turbine. The weather was still warm, but the wind was starting to pick up and the little turbine was whirling, its fast-moving blades whistling through the air.
I looked up at the sky. Dark clouds were moving across the creek valley from horizon to horizon, and I could see the trees on the tops of the ridges starting to dance in the upland wind.
Back inside the cabin, I prepared dinner as Greg built a fire in the wood stove. He would not light it until later, but it was all set and ready for a match as soon as the cabin began to chill. The temperature had already begun to drop outside, but we knew that with the windows closed, the cabin would stay warm well into the night.
Eventually, the day was done, and we climbed the stairs to the loft. As I drifted off to sleep, I could hear the sound of a pelting rain as it drummed against the cabin’s metal roof. I felt secure in the comfort of the small house that has been our off-grid home for the past 13 years.
When I woke the next morning, I realized that Greg had gotten up and lit the fire sometime during the night. The cabin was toasty warm. I put on the coffee water and went outside to switch out the dogs, and only then did I realize how much it must have rained.
The dogs’ dishes were easily filled with almost two inches of fresh rain water, and I could hear the creek running wild behind me. I looked down the hill though the winter bare trees and saw the swollen water, raucously rushing south to the river.
Back inside the cabin, I checked the state of the batteries’ charge, as I always do each morning, and was surprised to see that they were at 98 percent. They usually lose a bit of charge overnight, as we turn the lights on to read, cruise the internet or watch satellite television. The solar panels obviously do not generate energy after dark, but this past night, our batteries had maintained at almost a full charge. I immediately knew that our little wind charger, usually still in the shelter of the creek valley, had been working overtime all throughout the night. It was still early morning and somewhat dark outside, but I happily turned on the cabin’s lights, luxuriating in our excess early morning energy.
After breakfast, we finished up the animal chores and headed across the driveway to work on the new house. Greg planed and installed the window trim, as I treated the finished woodwork with clear preservative. The sun was shining bright and we worked easily, but by early afternoon we decided to take a break and to town to run errands. It seems that we make a run the hardware store almost daily.
We were amazed. As soon as we drove away from the creek, we realized that the valley had sheltered us from a ravaging storm. Massive trees had been uprooted and crushed our upland neighbors’ barns, fences, garages and even homes. We saw that one neighbor had lost his entire roof, ripped off by the winds, trusses and all. And everyone was without power.
We later learned that some folks had been left without power for several days, yet all through the raging storm and after, we had been blissfully oblivious.
As astounded as we were, though, it occurred to me that perhaps oblivious is not quite the right word to describe our creek state of mind. My heart certainly pined for our upland neighbors, who we saw already beginning to clean up and rebuild, but my heart was also filled with an amazing feeling of gratitude for our creek valley world.
I was reminded that our horizons along the creek may well be limited, and at times we may seem cloistered, cut off from the rest of the world, but I had to smile to know that this valley really has become our home, a home that sheltered us from this passing storm.
Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.