Lamps and bowls from stormy weather…

Bowls I had made by a woodworking guy from downed trees in our yard after a storm.

When the powerful wind blows in from the south our storm door, whistles an eerie sound. This morning I bolted out of bed to that sound at 5:50 am, a short time after Tom had left for work. In my sleepy stupor, I thought I was hearing the train-like roar of a tornado.

My heart was pounding in my chest as adrenaline was pumping fervently through my veins. I sat down on the stairway landing, took a deep breath as a sudden wave of sorrow washed over me, remembering the storm of 2007 that took twenty of our mature trees.  

I recalled the many middle-of-the-night tornado warnings that sent us lumbering down the steep stairway to the basement, the power outages that lasted for days, prompting us to finally buy a generator (which we didn’t need to use for another five years).

As I mulled over all the dastardly weather-related events in our lives these past 21 years together, I smiled, as my heart pounding eased and my breathing returned to normal.  

I recalled the time the 10′ diameter, 500 pound round picnic table flew through the yard like a Frisbee, the snowdrift so high it took four men and a bobcat to break it down (while we stayed indoors stranded for days), the sturdy dock that flipped over, the pontoon boat that drifted away, the rain so hard and long that not only the road flooded but also our basement. We called the fire department to rescue us.  

We made it through, always grateful that it wasn’t worse, grateful we shared the experience together, grateful our family members, friends, and pets were all safe, and grateful for the way it changed us, a little bit at a time, always for the better.

It was Friday night August 10, 2007. Ragweed was in full bloom and I couldn’t stop sneezing. Taking two over-the-counter antihistamines around 10 pm, I anticipated I’d be out like a light in no time.  

Tom stayed awake to watch the weather, planning to come to bed shortly. The barometric pressure, the temperature, and the humidity had been outrageous all day and into the evening. In the morning, we planned to grab our ambitiously packed luggage in order to head out the door to catch a flight to Miami for a week long convention for Tom’s work and, a much-needed vacation.

At 3:00 am, Tom tried to awaken me to go down to the basement, to no avail. He later told me I had refused to get up. He came back to bed while the house shook with violent straight-line winds attacking us from all sides of the peninsula.  

The alarm clock didn’t go off as planned. The power was off. It was 8:00 am and we had to leave for the airport in one hour.  I bolted out of bed realizing we had overslept and dashed to the kitchen to turn on the coffee, which I needed more this morning than ever. But, the power was off. No coffee machine. 

It only took one glance out the window to realize that something awful had happened during the night. Running back to the bedroom to awaken Tom it became quite clear that we wouldn’t be leaving for the airport and we didn’t have to rush. We weren’t going anywhere.

Our tree-lined yard looked as if a bulldozer had come through knocking down every tree in its path. One giant oak tree with a 36″ diameter was down, along with dozens of smaller red cedars and pine trees. Gone. Gone was all of our newer patio furniture. Gone were all of our adorable handmade birdhouses.

Gone was the wood duck house with the huge tree it was secured to. Gone was the tree that WorldWideWillie climbed on command. Gone was the Weber grill along with its big black lid. Gone was the boat dock into a mangled, twisted mess on the lawn. Gone was the 26′ pontoon boat, it too a mangled mess lying on the rip rap shoreline.

The new siding on the house was severely damaged by falling trees, the stone chimney flue for the furnace, toppled over into a pile on the damaged thick wood shake roof. Hail damage on both of our cars. No power, not for 5 days. It was 95 degrees for each of the 5 days. Going to Florida seemed unimportant. We called and canceled everything.

After two weeks of hard work, no less than ten workers from tree removal companies, the considerable expense to remove the downed trees, most of which wasn’t covered by our insurance, a new pile of downed red cedar trees were neatly cut and stacked awaiting future fires in the fire pit.  

We were relieved that the house hadn’t been more severely damaged and of course, that no one had been hurt in the 3:00 am storm. Gawkers came from all over to see our devastated property. We were sad over the loss of so many hundred plus-year-old trees that not only changed the look of our yard, but also affected the lighting in our many-windowed home.

Days after the cleanup when Tom had gone back to work, I wandered over to the woodpile wondering how we’d ever use all the wood. Tom talked about using the logs to line our driveway, connected by heavy-duty marine rope. A great idea, but not practical with the narrow road.

One of Two Lamps Made from Downed Red Cedar Trees

As I stood there looking at the wood I knew I needed an idea to turn this loss of nature into a wondrous memory. It was that day that I decided to surprise Tom the next Christmas with lamps and bowls made from precious wood. 

After considerable research, I found a local woodworker who decided to take on the challenge. The following Christmas the giant wrapped boxes sat by our memorabilia covered Christmas tree with Tom’s name neatly written on the colorful little tags.  

The bowls were his birthday gift on December 23rd, the lamps for Christmas. Tears welled up his eyes on both occasions as he excitedly ripped open the boxes to reveal the sentimental gifts, each engraved on the underside with his name and the date of the storm.

The shades were purchased separately, made by hand with actual leaves embedded in the fabric, visible only at night for a pleasing effect when the lamps are turned on.  Need I say, he was touched by these gifts, assuming at the time that we’d have them forever. 

Each day, as we inch our way closer to the departure date of October 31, 2012, we face the reality that we will soon say goodbye, not only to those people we love and cherish, but also to these bowls and lamps, and the multitude of sentimental treasures we’ve accumulated over the years. 
We can only hope that whoever purchases these items from us will somehow discover a special meaning of their own.

As each of our lives nears the end, it is love that will accompany us as we travel on to our eternal journey. No lamps or bowls allowed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *