Hello my fellow human Beings:
I was in the Mississippi Mills and Lanark counties of Eastern Ontario, near the Ottawa Valley on the weekend visiting family and friends. Locals had been praying for rain for weeks and weeks, doing their rain dances and all, as the landscape around them continued to get drier and drier, and browner and browner. Due to the extreme dryness caused by the drought, there were burn bans in effect, because there was a risk that even a cigarette carelessly discarded could set off a forest fire.
So when the sky started to get dark and the storm clouds rolled in, we all waited in anticipation for the rains to fall to quench the land. But what happened wasn’t what people expected or necessarily wanted.
My partner and I with our friend safely weathered the first storm system in a diner in Renfrew. We watched the lightning and rain fall to the ground while eating our lunch. Although the power cut out a few times in the diner, it didn’t appear to be too bad from our vantage point. We thought it was just a nice summer storm.
When the rains subsided we left the diner and spent some time in the town before heading back to our friend’s house in the outskirts later that afternoon.
It was then that we realized it wasn’t just a nice summer storm.
Parts of the road were covered in many downed branches and trees. Thankfully, some kind local folks with chain saws had chopped up and moved some of the trees to allow for at least one lane of the road to be passable.
As we reached our friend’s house the number of trees on the road had increased, but thankfully we got to her place safely and there wasn’t significant damage on their property. Although the power was out, the lawn furniture was blown about and their vegetable and flower gardens were somewhat mangled, their house was standing and all the people and animals inside were alright.
As we tried to help clean up a bit, we heard this rumbling sound that turned into a roaring sound. It was like the sound of a train approaching, but there were no train tracks nearby. The sky began to darken again and the wind started picking up once more. Soon we heard the PING – PING – PING of hailstones falling and we dashed inside the house. Another storm system was on its way in. To be safe, we got flashlights and headed to a protected place in the basement to wait out the storm.
We patiently waited out the storm. I focused on my breathing to stay calm and level-headed and to help others remain calm too.
When it was safe for us to emerge, we went out to survey the damage.
Hailstones the size of golf balls and marbles covered the lawn and the ground appeared drenched. We couldn’t see much more damage on their property, so my partner and I decided to head out while there was still light to make the hour drive to our destination for the night.
So we said our good-byes and headed down the winding road out of the hilly, bush area. There were more tree branches and trees down on the road and my partner reliably maneuvered the car around them to get us safely through this portion of the storm’s aftermath obstacle course.
As we came around a corner and swerved passed another downed tree, my partner hit the brakes. There, lying across the whole road, was a downed power line.
We backed up and pulled over to the side trying to survey our next steps. Another vehicle was coming up behind us and we flagged it down. It just happened to be an Ontario Provincial Police officer, so we notified him of the downed power line and asked if he could determine if it was safe to cross. As he checked it out and made a few phone calls, the traffic began to back up in both directions. After a length of time, he was not able to determine if the power was out in these lines and he noted that hydro crews were attending to other calls of power outages and downed power lines so they would be a while before they could come to this area. He advised us that he couldn’t let us cross the downed power line and we had to turn back and try to take another route out of the hillside area.
So we turned around and as we travelled back up the road we had come, we informed the cars that were lined up about the situation.
Once again, my partner navigated around downed trees and branches as we attempted to take the second route out of the township.
As we travelled a distance on our new route, we made another turn and came across another line of backed up traffic, as hydro crews worked to fix some more down power lines.
So we turned around again to trek down yet another route looping us further out of the area. After travelling a while down this third route, we reached an impasse as another hydro crew had blocked the road because of more downed trees and power lines. As a serendipitous aside, one of these hydro workers was my partner’s cousin, who told us of yet another route to take looping us even further out of our way to get around the storm’s aftermath.
So we journeyed on, taking it all in as part of our adventure, enjoying each others’ company, and hoping to get to our destination before dark. Thank goodness for GPS and my partner’s knowledge of the roads in the area and great driving skills to get us to our destination safely, some three hours later.
Afterwards we found out from the news reports that there had been a series of severe, short storm bursts that rolled into different parts of the area bringing with it damaging winds, hail, tornadoes, thunder and lightning, torrential rains and downed power lines and trees.
We were grateful to be safe and alive.
We were happy to have been together through it all.
In those hours of the storm, we had to just be in the present moment and be flexible and adaptable to all of life’s twists and turns.
As the Russian author, activist and philosopher, Leo Tolstoy, wrote:
“If you want to be happy, be.”
Storms aren’t really something that you plan for and when they hit you have to use quick wits, good instincts and a calm presence to deal with the unexpected obstacles in your path.
You need to remember to live life now, in the present moment, and not always grasping for the better life in the future.
As I was preparing to write this post, I came across this quote in a book entitled, Thoughts On Being At Peace, in which the author, poet and short fiction writer, Jan Johnston Drantell, reminds us that our lives are worth living now and not just in some expectant future. She wrote:
“It’s easy enough to say that life is a process. Yet how many of us live our life as if it is a product? When we get or have what we want: a better job, a new place to live, thinner, smarter, older (younger?), serenity, peace, etc., etc., then we’ll really have something. Then our lives will be worth living. The only known destination in life is death, and even dying is a process.”
Dealing with the obstacles of this storm experience, reminded me of the lessons I learned from a little caterpillar (a story for another day). The lessons are for dealing with life’s obstacles. When you are faced with a challenge or obstacle in life, you have choices that you can make:
(1) You can take a risk.
(2) You can seek out help.
(3) You can change your path.
So as you go about your life and you come across one of life’s unexpected obstacles lying in your path, remember to be still, BREATHE, remain calm, connect to your inner wisdom, and make the choice(s) you need to be present, be happy and live more abundantly now!