When i left in the darkness of the pre-dawn morning i could see on the radar that it was going to storm before i returned. 60 mph winds and hail were expected. The radar screen was alive with color.
As i sat in the darkness of the chapel during another one of our thursday meetings i could see the storm was now hitting my home on the radar. The little blue dot was engulfed in red. I had an overwhelming desire to get up and leave, to drive home and manage the homestead. I wanted to be there as it faced the storm. I had finished my work already but alas, it was Thursday. Everyone had to be present in the mandatory after-lunch meeting. It would be another 45 minutes before i could even start towards the door. I watched as the storm hit my little town, enveloped it, and then moved on. I was vaguely listening to the warning about extra long lunch breaks and the reminder to write thorough notes and keep all work spaces neat and tidy. All i could think about was that my property had probably not weathered that magnitude of a storm without incident…especially without me there to secure and brace things.
As i swung open the cow gate a grim sight greeted me. It was the twisted and mangled wreckage of what had once been the greenhouse that had taken me 19.5 hours to build. The 60 mph winds had crumpled it like paper mache. As i ran my fingers along the twisted metal i confirmed that there would be no salvaging the big pieces. The panels were shredded and jagged. The metal was twisted and warped. Only the nuts and bolts were still good. I had a tool that would cut through thin sheets of metal and i would of course repurpose the pieces of the twisted mess for future projects but it didn’t change the fact that i had a problem on my hands in the here and now. I had a lot of sprouted plants and no place to put them. A gust of wind blew and the whole thing creaked and shifted. I realized the heap of metal and plastic would likely collapse altogether at any minute. I needed to salvage as many of the boxes from underneath the mess before that happened. Car still running and in park, gate still wide open, i rolled up my sleeves and began dragging box after box out from under the hanging wreckage of what was once my greenhouse. When i had pulled the last box out from underneath the gaggle of twisted metal the thing collapsed to the ground. As i examined the boxes i realized that every single sprout was still intact. I couldn’t understand how. It had to be an act of God. By definition the plants should all have been torn and crushed by the metal pieces and plastic panels that had caved in on top of them. I didn’t know what i was doing with them but i knew it would be a shame to waste them. I made the decision to place the box lids upside down on the floor of the extension shed and lift the boxes atop them, where i could water them without soaking the floor. They would not receive enough sunlight in the shed and it wasn’t a long term plan for what to do with them, but it would buy me some time. I grabbed the edge of a box and began pulling. The well house drainage area stood between the greenhouse and the extension shed. It was overgrown with waist high thistles and tall chigger infested grasses. This meant the boxes had to be dragged from the greenhouse, to the house, around the well house, and up to the extension shed. They were full of mud and shamelessly heavy. I grunted and huffed as i dragged the boxes one by one through the grass. Two of the boxes had to be left out in the open next to the orchard area as they were completely infested with termites and i didn’t want them in the extension shed. I dug up the plants in them and buried them in other boxes before sliding them away towards the orchard. Once all the boxes were in place inside the extension shed i unlatched and opened the windows to get some airflow. A nice cross breeze tickled the leaves of the tiny plants in the dimly lit shed. I locked the door and returned to the car; still running in the yard. I climbed into the driver’s seat and shut the door. I gave the pile of rubble in the yard one last glance and then released the parking brake. I drove up to the house, parked the car, gathered my things and went inside. It was one of those moments that would have hurt too badly to put words to. It was better left unsaid. I readied the dogs and the chickens for bed.