Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hail Damage

Heavy with water, the sky was terrible and beautiful at the same time. Blues and greens swirled into updrafts and downpours, with spears of lightning criss crossing the changing shapes and colors... The meteorologist on the radio kept saying this was "a dangerous situation, with hail and possible tornadic activity" and that we should "take cover immediately."

Since we had foolishly gone for sandwiches in a town set right between our house and the storm, my husband drove as fast as he dared, hoping to get home in time to get the car into the garage and shut the big doors of the pole shed. I twisted in my seat to watch the sky, finally insisting that we stop for just a moment so I could try to shoot some photos with my cell phone camera. (That's one of them above.)

We made it just in time. The skies opened, the sirens sounded, and we headed to the basement with our laptops in tow so we could watch the radar, since the rain had obliterated the TV satellite signal. Soon we had the hail the forcaster told us about and soon it covered the garden with white.

Back upstairs (who could hide away when there was such a mighty storm to watch?) the hail pelted the roof, the trees, the flower garden that was just coming along, the corn and soybeans in the field. Leaves from the trees fell as fast as the hail did. None of our windows were broken, but the growing things outside were utterly shredded. According to the local newspaper, the areas on either side of our road were the hardest hit in the county. Crops ruined, lowlands flooded, muck and mud everywhere!

Now, several days later, the air smells like autumn. The corn is drying out the way it's supposed to dry out in September and October. There are dry leaves on the lawn, but it's too hot to do much raking. I cut back many perennials with broken stems and torn leaves. It kind of looks like fall, too. I find it terribly sad.

Last week I learned that two great saints from my first parish recently died within days of each other. Both were 96 years old, each had been a member of her congregation since she was young. I could tell fond and funny stories about each one of them.

When I first became their pastor fifteen years ago, I remember looking from one face to another in their women's Bible Study groups and wondering how many of them I would bury. As it turned out, many of them did die while I served as their pastor, and others have died since. It was a sad moment to realize that I wasn't there only to befriend them, but that I would be called on walk their last days with them. I preached resurrection hope at all their funerals; some with joy because they had been released from their suffering, all with sadness at losing them.

Yes, the leaves on the trees around here are pretty thin. Yes, my garden looks nothing like it should. Sadly, the beautiful corn is done for this year, since it's too late to replant.

BUT, the garden store down the road is changing from nursery to local produce outlet - all annuals are about to be composted, most of them leggy and spent. For 75% off, they sold me two boxes of plants that are in good enough shape that they might just bring some beauty and life back into the garden. Death doesn't have to win this one! (Does it ever?)

I'll keep you posted and maybe even share a photo or two of the garden once it starts coming along again.

Peace, health and good weather to you.