The rest of the story . . .
If you managed to read through the previous post (see previous post!) you know I promised the story of “The Storm” and that is what this post is all about.
We set about on Tuesday morning to “do” 1,500 ears of sweet corn. The process started with me traversing the miles to the farm of Willard and Tammy Kauffman to pick up the corn. It wasn’t too hot (yet!) on this morning — there was some cloud cover, and the breezes, coming in the open windows of Certain Man’s air-conditioned-less truck, (affectionately known as “Stinky” to Certain Man’s household) was pleasant enough for me to burst into little made up songs as we puttered on down the road. The muffler needs fixed, and there was this sense of power (totally without foundation) when the noise of a “bad boy’s car” rumbled through the neighborhood. Nine year old Romy, on the ripped and stained passenger’s seat, stole more than one puzzled glance in the direction of the driver.
“Who is this crazy lady?” He must have wondered, “and how do I let myself get into these predicaments?” But then, he’s getting accustomed to Ms. Mary Ann and her (sometimes) unpredictable behaviors.
It was easy to be enthusiastic about our venture. Certain Man had set everything up for us before leaving for work. He had run the many hoses, hooked up the cooling system, set up the new corn silker and even hooked up the gas to the two outside cookers. All we needed to do was to spread out the tarp to catch all the husks and we were ready to get to work.
It was a terribly hot day. A week ago, when we did 700 ears, it was also extremely hot, but there was a redeeming breeze blowing and it didn’t seem too bad, especially under the pavilion. Now, this day was almost unbearable, even in the shade, but the optimism I felt over all the wonderful help we had participating was not to be quelled. There was a small chance of some afternoon showers, and how very much we needed rain.
“Many hands make light work” the old saying goes, and the husking was over in short order. Our amazing work crew: Christina, Deborah, and I from our family, Sarah, Elmer, Maria and Josh from the Slaubaughs, Roxie and Carmen from the Heatwoles, Friend Emma and little Romy from next door along with occasional help from Love Bug.
We wiped out the husking task, finished the silking in a little bit of no time and had the burners going full blast and the cutting was coming along nicely. We were extremely pleased with our progress. Middle Daughter was managing the blanching with help from Elmer, and doing a splendid job of things. The afternoon continued to be oppressively hot, and very little breeze was to be had in the open air pavilion.
Over the course of the afternoon, we noticed that towards the east, there were clouds forming. Shady Acres rarely gets a storm from the east, and the wind seemed to be coming out of the northwest, so we continued to cook, cook, cook and cut, cut, cut. Love Bug got a little tired from all her running around, and Christina decided to take her home for a nap. (This was a “God-thing” and nothing short of it — not because of her behavior, but because of what happened.) Beloved Son in Law was able to get off from work to come home and watch over the sleeping Love Bug and Christina came back to lend her help. The weather continued to look dark and foreboding. Since we haven’t had much rain (as in NONE in the month of June) we were all hoping for significant rainfall.
Late in the afternoon, it began to rain, and with the rain came some wind that threatened to blow dust and dirt into the pavilion and into our precious corn. We debated about a tarp, and the only one I knew of that Certain Man had was the one that we had put the corn husks on, and I distinctly remembered the smell of male cats when I had put it down in the morning. I did not really want to tangle with that huge old thing, especially in the wind and rain. Then Friend Emma remembered that she had a tent tarp in her truck. She didn’t remember why she had it, and the tent was no longer in use, so she went out and fetched it in the middle of a downpour, and with monumental effort, we raised a protective shield against the elements. And it worked really, really well!
In the meantime, the storm waxed worse and worse.
The lightening was so close, we could feel it in the air, and the thunder crashed almost as soon as the lightening flashed. The smarter ones of us took refuge in the house until things settled down, and then we all got back to work again. The storm had seemingly moved on, and we had corn to finish yet.
Deborah never left her post, and she and Elmer finished well ahead of us. (I didn’t get a picture of Elmer! Or Carmen! So sorry!)
We had finished all the blanching, but there were three big muck buckets of corn cooling. The lightening and thunder returned with a vengeance, and all of a sudden, the wind took on a strange feel to it. I looked up to see that things were starting to fly about, and Sister Sarah said, “I think we need to get in.” I was thinking that was a good idea,too.
“Get in!” I said. “We need to go now!” And then bedlam really broke loose. Common “corn day stuff” was becoming missiles to be reckoned with. There were three big pots of corn sitting on the table, already cut off, and there were paper plates and cups, dishrags and paper towels, knives and hot pads all over the pavilion. The whistling wind and the realization that we were in serious circumstances made us all a bit uncertain about what we should do.
“What shall we do with this corn and stuff?”
“What shall we do, what shall we take?”
“Grab whatever you can,” I shouted above the wind, “But just go. Now!!!” I reached down to get the big stainless steel bowl of corn that I was packing into plastic bags. Just as I gathered it up in my arms, I felt the wind literally pick me off the ground. It was but an instant until I was back down again, and at that moment, something whacked me hard, on the right side of my head, “ka-thunk!” About then, the tarp came loose from its moorings and wrapped itself around Carmen who struggled mightily to free herself. The wind was strange and wild and about then, it grabbed the tarp from Carmen and wrapped it around my head. I was dimly aware of people shouting and Carmen was frantically screaming, “Aunt Mary! Aunt Mary!” I reached up and clawed at the tarp that was wrapped around my head and with a mighty effort tore it off. The elastic bands that served to anchor the tarp somehow tethered themselves around my right ear, and I wrestled with the sheets of rain and mighty wind to get rid of the tarp. I remember that my sister was beginning to turn around to come and help me, and I knew she needed to get herself in —
“Just get in!!!” I remember shouting, as I finally flung the drenched tarp away from me, nearly tearing off my ear in the process.
“Aunt Mary, Aunt Mary,” Carmen was still wailing. “Aunt Mary, are you okay? Oh, Aunt Mary, weren’t you down? I was sure you were down!”
“Come on, we need to get in,” I insisted almost incoherently. “I’m fine!”
“Didn’t you fall?” Carmen insisted.
“Nope! Not at all!” All this time, we were all dashing for the protection of the garage, up the ramp and into the laundry room where we all stood dripping everywhere, and looking wild and wide eyed as we thought about what could have been. All of us were soaked to the skin, and my ear felt like it was on fire.
“Aunt Mary, are you SURE you are okay?” Carmen asked again. “I was sure I saw you down!”
“I’m sure I didn’t fall, Carmen, I promise you, but I did almost get my ear taken off!” That’s when it got funny, because my hair was as drenched down as a wet rat, my clothes were dripping puddles around my feet, and my ear was as red as a rooster’s comb! And hurt! Wowser! After everything calmed down and the adrenaline wasn’t flowing anymore, I was sure that I had permanent damage to that poor right ear. I felt all about its parameters carefully to make sure there was no blood, no gaping wounds that needed attention, and it appeared that all was well. I just couldn’t figure out how it could be so red and hurt so much. And it took a while to piece together the story of all that really happened.
The one thing certain was that we all needed dry clothing. So Emma and Sarah put on threads of mine, and the others procured things from the accumulated stash, and Christina found a bag of clean clothes in her car for herself. We waited out the storm, while rivers of water poured down outside of the sun room and the basement began to take on water. Middle Daughter and Elmer kept running out and rescuing this or that. Somewhere in that segment of time, I realized that my glasses were gone, and figured I would probably never see them again, but Elmer went forth and searched about and found them. They were a bit bent and twisted, and they really don’t fit right, but they are my glasses, and I can at least READ!
Then my cell phone began to ring, and the fellow on the other end came on with the dire words, “You have a poultry alarm, you have a poultry alarm . . .” I went out and checked and neither light was on, indicating that both chicken houses were in big trouble. I called Certain Man, and he said he was almost home, to just not worry about it. Elmer went out and checked the first house, but his Mama was not very excited about him being out there, so he came back, but hadn’t found anything serious going on out there. No roofs missing or houses blown down. Sarah and Elmer decided to go on home about then at the great urging of the younger set, who also insisted that I stay in the house and take care of house things.
About then, Certain Man came in from the chicken house and said, “Well, that was one expensive storm!”
“What happened in the chicken house?” I asked, tenderly cupping my red, ouchie ear. (I wondered if it was brilliant enough to light up the entire room, but he didn’t seem to notice. I must have been a sight, anyhow, with my hair now pulled straight back and bare feet and housecoat. And red ear. Don’t forget the red ear!)
‘Well, something fried our new computers. One house entirely and the other has something wrong with it. I have a call in to the electrician, and he is coming. I suppose, though, that the one, at least, is a total loss.” The computers have been in the house for one (1!) flock. I could tell that he was pretty discouraged just to think of the money it would take to replace even one of them. But he is a resourceful man, and doesn’t let much get him down, especially when there is a crisis that demands his energy, and soon he, Emma, Christina, Roxie, Carmen and Deborah were back out in the pavilion, finishing up cutting the last of the corn off and cleaning up. They brought the last corn in for me to package, and Carmen and Roxie stayed to help wash dishes and straighten up the kitchen a little. And finally, I was at the end. I could not go any more.
When everyone had gone, I came in to my computer to write the story — and that is where I got a bit sidetracked telling the anniversary story. What I didn’t tell last night was that Certain Man was on his way to Virginia while I was writing that story, to pick up a new computer for the chicken house. One was fried, the other was repairable. I finished writing my story, then went out to check chickens for him before settling in for the night. I rode the trusty golf cart out and the world was gorgeous. All washed and shiny and even cooler. I checked the two houses of chickens and everything was fine. I was talking to Certain Man on my cell phone and went out to check the rain gauge before heading for the house. I was having a delightful conversation with him while I headed back to the pavilion on the dark side of the house to park the golf cart when suddenly there was this terrible clattering and noise over head. I thought that the golf cart must have gone under something that was scraping the top of the cart when suddenly I came to a screeching halt. I had caught the clothes line with the top of the golf cart and had torn down all three lines. The one line had hooked between the golf cart’s post and its roof, and I had to stop and unhook the whole mess before I could go forward.
Certain Man LAUGHED.
I could have cried.
Back in the house, though, and through the day today, I’ve been rethinking those terrible minutes in my mind and I realize how very blessed and protected we were in that storm. Our neighbor right down the road had a big tree literally uprooted in his yard, and heavy limbs fell on his house. There were branches down and our one Crape Myrtle lost one of its largest branches. There were so many things flying around, and so many people out in the worst part of the wind and rain, and yet, there were no serious injuries. I have an interesting bruisey weltish kind of thing on the back of my ear, and it still hurts, but it isn’t going to fall off, and it didn’t need to be reattached, so it isn’t really worth mentioning. (But I keep mentioning it because, after all, it does still hurt!)
Even with that, this is one grateful gal, believe me! It truly could have been such a different story told tonight. And for the angel that God sent to set me back down gently and safely, I am so thankful. This is a story of protection and provision, and I offer grateful praise.
I’m also grateful for 170 containers of corn, all packaged and in the freezer.
Oh, and the 3.25 inches of rain was wonderful, too.