When Life Hands You A Derecho, Make A Wood Cord — Or, Life Lessons from Irish Farmers

Those of you who follow me on Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook know that I recently lost an entire building on my property to a nasty-bad storm. When I say nasty-bad, what that means is that there were very large items flying through the air at high speeds. One of them was a tree, and it hit my shed. The shed is no more. The good news is that I had recently toyed with the idea of turning that shed into a chicken coop and becoming a chicken-person. Because of general hem-hawing on my part, that never came about, and the would-have-been chickens were saved from being crushed by simply not existing in the first place.

The storm itself was a derecho – it’s kinda like all the benefits of a tornado without the bother of a  funnel cloud – except I almost scored one of those, too. The boyfriend and I were peering at some rotation up in the sky when he suddenly bolted outdoors, camera in hand. This is one of the non-plusses of having a photographer for a boyfriend. Nervous for his safety and somehow feeling I could stop a funnel cloud from touching down if I were right next to him, I went outside too, and got stuck staring up at something really mesmerizing that had the ability to kill me in a split second if it felt like it.

Luckily for me it was feeling benevolent and passed over, but there was another cell that was taking some dance lessons from it, and decided to try out that whole rotation thing. It was right over my parent’s house, which I can see from my house, and my sister can see from hers. Suddenly my phone rings and it’s Sister, calling to say that there’s a storm-spotter in her driveway and they’re filming. So I rush inside, turn on the TV and there’s Mom and Dad’s house. Sister and I are so excited we call them to tell them to turn on the channel we’re watching so they can see their house on the news. Oh, and also that there was a funnel cloud forming above them.

And that was the extent of our excitement for the evening. There was another line of storms coming at us, but it was loving on Illinois at the time, scheduled for a 1 AM rendezvous with Ohio. So I battened down the hatches, brought in wind chimes, pre-emptively put pets in the basement and then considered the ethical question of what to do with my car.

I don’t have a garage. I always park in the driveway, directly under a big tree. My car is always covered with bird poop, but that’s not part of this story. It’s over 10 years old, makes noises it shouldn’t, and is dedicated to going left of center when I’m not interested in doing so. So my moral dilemma is this – I know there’s a storm coming, and I always park my old, insured car under a big tree. Can I conceivably leave it there when I have perfectly serviceable outbuildings?

My conscience won’t let me. I put it in a big barn that was possibly built by a guy named Noah. It’s that old, and that sturdy.

Sleep comes. Derecho comes. Sleep goes. Outbuilding goes. Barn stays. Car stays. Massive branch as thick as my body that fell over 30 feet lands where the car normally would’ve been. My conscience feels good, but my common sense is screeching.

Sister shows up with her husband and my cousin the next morning, and everyone gets out their toys. With our multiple chainsaws, machines to drag debris, and my log-splitter we clean up everything in about four hours. We feel good, we feel pretty accomplished, we have some beers. We make a wood cord that will keep my house warm for a solid month this winter, which is my revenge on the tree.

And yesterday the transmission went out on my car.

Conscience, I shake my fist at you.

6 thoughts on “When Life Hands You A Derecho, Make A Wood Cord — Or, Life Lessons from Irish Farmers

  1. Wow, what an experience you had and glad you're safe. And interesting that the word, derecho is used. Here in Mexico where I live, they don't use that term for stormss. Hmm?

  2. A derecho is a very specific type of storm, actually pretty rare. We've only had a handful around here in my lifetime, but when they come they're memorable!

  3. Ah, yes, these lovely Ohio derechos. Or it it derechoes? Or maybe derech-woes. Any way you slice it, those storms suck. We got lucky this time, but last year we were revving up the power tools, too. And now a transmission? YIKES! Hang in there!

  4. Oh, cars! That one's a bummer. I know what it's like to wish something would perhaps “happen” to an old car and then the insurance money will help fund a new one. Ethically, you did the right thing. It doesn't always feel that way. Glad you all are safe which is what really matters. So many crazy natural disasters lately.

  5. Thanks everyone – I keep telling myself, “You are a very fortunate person. You have an awesome agent and editor. Your life is really very cool. Get over it.”

    And that works every time 🙂

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