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  (ARCHIVES)Back to Current
Aftermath (08/29/2007)
By Janet Lewis Burns
"Adapt the peace of nature; her secret is patience."

I took a walk on the picture perfect morning of August 25th, following a week of dreary skies and a catastrophic disaster of colossal proportions. At first glance, our Lewiston neighborhood seemed almost normal, a calm after the storm. The early day's sun mirrored my shadow against the rough blacktop. Images of the flood that had whipped through nearby towns early August 19th seemed to have carved a permanent haunt in my mind, and in countless others'.

Telltale reminders graced front yards and driveways. Work boots caked with mud or clay sat on cement steps. Couches, recliners, and mattresses seemed misplaced along curbs, heaping with soggy carpeting, cardboard boxes piled high, TVs, furnaces, and water heaters. PVC pipes snake from basements to street gutters, where the occasional sump pump continued to spit the culprit that water had been reduced to during escalating disasters.

Sounds familiar during glorious, laidback, summertime weekends had been eerily silenced: no tunes blasting from vehicles, or golf carts humming along the street, nor lawn mowers and weed eaters at work. Instead, fans' monotonous drones wafted from open house windows and garages. Large equipment has been shuffling soil from place to place.

As the outdoors is shut out of our own home, the constant whirring of portable fans throughout our downstairs is an arduous reminder of nature's destructive power over all living things. One can't unfurl windows and open doors with release as long as destruction continues to nag waning ambitions to clean up and begin again.

We are so fortunate. Did you ever feel so thankful that you became overwhelmed with guilt? I was relieved, while in Winona yesterday, that there are ample opportunities to help others in desperate need.

I couldn't help but notice the contrasts on that early morning walk; beautiful flowers and bushes in our community speak of renewal and rejuvenation. Yards beam with golden, full-blown clusters and dainty white trumpets peeking from floppy leaves, nodding purple and pink posies, and trimmed hedges vibrant with dew and birdsong. Our towering trees have withstood domineering winds ever since our street's development in the early seventies.

The pine tree grove bordering Lewiston-Altura Elementary, beyond the cul-de-sac on Second Street South, imparts an ambiance of a forest fragrant with sap and fertile earth, and skittering antics of squirrels. Soon autumn winds will whistle their chilling tunes as they feel their way through barren branches. But for now - the Monarchs are gathering there. They floated along quiet breezes that August Saturday, as though nothing had been amiss, rudely mocking the wrath of nature with their startling presence. As a group flitted eyelevel on a clump of leaves, I imagined them exercising their busy wings for their long, upcoming journey.

What has the earth done? The giant birch whose leaves turn silver in the wind? Bubbling, calming streams where folks escape life's stressful routine? A pristine sky that winks playfully at admirers? Fields lively with crops and solid ground upholding family spaces? All too soon, the winter season will be nudging us to prepare anew. Like the Monarchs, we will complete the journey, strong and determined.

An occasional brightly colored wildflower nods through mud and flattened grasses. A brilliant sun bursts from behind a cloud. Faces of compassion, helping hands, hugs and encouraging words, and prayerful petitions lighten burdens. Those who suffer now, seeking to start over, will make peace with nearby forests, rivers, and streams once again.

The promise and hope of the rainbow glows all around us.  


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