Ice Storm 2015
It won’t be news to anyone that the mountain saw an historic ice storm last week; in fact many of you reading this will still be working to clean up yards and farms. In fact, all of the Southeast struggled with winter weather last week and we needed all hands on board to effect the necessary cleanup. You know that I’m always contrasting the things we face today, and how we handle them, with those faced a century ago. Well, Tennessee has always faced these sporadic winter storms and then tried to clear it all away and get back to a normal life. How would last week’s storm have been different in 1915 or 1815?
The ice and wind took down entire trees as well as plenty of all sizes of limbs. These have to be removed, roads have to be cleared whether you’re driving cars or mule teams. Of course, we have chain saws that make quick (or at least quicker) work than standing opposite a partner on a crosscut saw. In winter’s chill you want to get the cutting done as quickly as possible. But even with the most modern saw, it’s still hard work.
Once cut, all the wood has to be dragged out of the way, piled and disposed of. What a blessing is a tractor to snag heavy logs and pull them away. Yet, chaining a tree is just as cold whether you’re hooking it to a 100 horsepower, cabbed tractor or a four-up team of horses.
Let’s face it, the number of trees, the thick and yucky mud, and the bone-chilling wind does not change regardless of the date on the calendar or modern tools.
While our contemporary society may be immobilized by the ice, life just moves right along. We have cows ready to calve and they don’t generally wait for warm, sunny days. In fact, it’s been my humble observation that they usually choose the very worst of conditions especially if they are going to need human intervention in the birthing. Do you think that has changed over time? I doubt it. I’m thinking beef cattle were every bit as ornery two centuries ago as they are today. One calf refused to eat and you can’t just ignore the little creature because conditions are inconvenient. So, in the mud and the cold we were milking that mean ole’ Angus and bottle-feeding her baby.
Still, my feet were dry – you can really withstand a lot with dry feet - and I was praising The Lord for good boots. And my hands were warm in water-proof gloves, at least until I had to milk the cow and I just never have figured out how to milk in gloves! People were dying across the south due to exposure and traffic accidents and it’s just hard to really complain about the little troubles when you realize how much worse others have it. And then I remember our ancestors who faced all these things just as we have and their lights never did come back on for they lived with coal-oil lamps and wood-burning stoves. The weatherman is saying there’ll be another round of winter weather this week so maybe we can keep our perspective and remember that spring really is just around the corner when we will turn soil, plant seeds and grow crops just as our people have been doing for generations on the mountain.
Isn’t the constancy of life a beautiful thing?