Saturday, 5 May 2012

At Yellow Lake--A Final Look at Last Summer

Last week I wrote about the terrible windstorm that hit Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin last summer and created a wide swathe of destruction that travelled from Minneapolis to the Great Lakes. .

Today I want to write about the aftermath. I’m not talking about the immediate mess—the smashed roofs, the flattened buildings, the 100 year old trees that were uprooted or sheared in two. I’m talking about what was left behind after the effects of the initial carnage had been cleared away. The sandy, chewed-up earth. The tree-stumps. The craters. The desolate… nothing.

I haven’t looked at these pictures (taken by my sister at the end of the summer) for awhile. When I opened the file this morning I expected to be reminded of the long, hot and stressful summer of 2011: of waiting weeks for electricity (and therefore, water) to be restored; of hauling away brush, wood, and debris; of dealing with bids for reconstruction and tree clearance; of coping (or not coping) with the overwhelming shock and heartbreak of seeing such a beloved landscape destroyed.  

And so I was….

But looking at these pictures nine months after the event, I’m reminded of good things, too.
I’m reminded of the lake’s beauty, how that can never be changed. 

I’m reminded of the care and craftsmanship my grandfather used to build our cabin—and how strong and solid it is, many years later, both inside and out.

I’m reminded of the friends and family members who came to our aid straight away, donating their time, expertise and equipment to help.

I’m reminded of the workers who were contracted to repair the cabin’s walls, roof and chimney, and who spent days clearing away the logs and digging out stumps. These workers were the heroes of the summer, labouring in temperatures that were often reached  38C/100F. They also cared about the cabin, sensing how important it is for my family, and treating it with real respect. .

 Buba, the Ojibwe mason who rebuilt the fieldstone chimney that had been toppled by trees, included among in the modern processed stones, several of my grandfather’s original stones as a way of honouring his memory and his workmanship. When Ryan the roofer came back to work after a short break on another job, I gave him such a massive hug that my brother-in-law thought Ryan was a visiting friend.

There were occasional Bobcat wheelies, too...

So, looking at these pictures has actually brought back a flood of happy memories. Of how my sister and I got through the many tense moments by using our shared sense of humour (let’s just say the word “wood” was often used in a way that didn’t necessarily relate to making fires or building homes…) Of the way everyone in my family rallied around each other, quickly forgetting any squabbles, keeping an eye on what really mattered.

So there we are.

My sister and brother-in-law are now planting new trees, and I'm looking forward to seeing Anne's photos of the new babies.  It will take an awful long time for them to get to the size of the trees we lost.

But they will grow, because that’s the way these things go. Change comes. Things are renewed. We just have to wait...

1 comment:

  1. Glad you can focus on the happy memories but, my, how beautiful that lake is!