Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Out of Chaos comes Change

It's been two and a half years since I have been here, and it just seems like barely a moment
in time. A lot has happened to change my world since then, truly chaos in action. A beautiful light went out in May of 2011 when my cherished younger daughter passed away, and we were still reeling from that when our city was struck by the most devastating tornado in history at the end of that same May. It was a sad and heartbreaking year already when we suffered a drought that summer, and the gardens weakened, no matter how much water we poured on them. Winter didn't help, there was little moisture even then, and what we got in the spring wasn't enough. Then another blow; record heat and more drought in the summer of 2012, months went by with plus 100 degree days and not a drop of rain as El Nino held us in a tight grip. Venerable old oaks and pines died, our gardens languished and fell back. We watered, but it was so hot that plants literally cooked in the heat. My beloved hostas got smaller, and some died, other perennials too, trying to survive by cutting back. We watered to keep the trees alive. Water bills soared but it was less expensive to water the trees than it would have been to cut them down if we let them die.

We went into the winter of 2012 with trepidation. It was clear that the changing climate might mean a new way of gardening for all of us, and we weren't ready for that change. Spring of 2013 brought a shift to La Nina, however, and we had a wet, rainy spring and rainy summer with mild temperatures, things grew lush and quickly as if making up for lost time. We learned the value of native plants--there are good reasons they have survived for centuries in the wild. August was dry, but it usually is, anyway, and life seems to be returning to normal, whatever that is now.

Our city is recovering from the tornado, there continues to be a rebuilding frenzy that promises to make it bigger and better than it was. Though there is an empty space in our hearts where our daughter used to be, we can remember her with love, and move on. A grandson has come to live with us; at the age of 6 he is a trial and a patience, and we are not sure that we are young enough to survive the experience! But we love him, and he is an altogether delightful and bright child. Even if he is a noise with dirt on it.

Chaos has indeed wrought a lot of changes in our lives, and we have learned a lot from the experience. Sometimes it's difficult to not regret what we've lost. It's hard for the human heart to let go of what we loved deeply and consign those things to loving memory; to accept a new way and go easily down a new and unknown path. But we are doing it!

Our city and many volunteers are planting new trees to replace those that were destroyed by the tornado, creating inner city forests and habitat; and that alone lifts spirits and gives hope. We have learned that out of devastation comes new life, and though the process was painful, we are better and stronger coming out of the ashes.Mother Nature will adapt, we will learn her new ways and because the human race is and has always been adaptable too, we will survive and perhaps become something new. In the process we must not forget to protect and care for our planet, it's the only place we have to live!

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