Once In A Lifetime

Storm Clouds Massing Over Lake

Storm Clouds Massing Over Lake

Our county was in line for a severe thunderstorm with very high winds—all to arrive within the next 15 minutes.

I glanced out the windows and noticed the skies darkening and looking threatening, but then they had been looking strange for the past few hours.

Five minutes later we had no power. No phone. Pitch black skies.

Winds off Lake Michigan shook our eastern walls. I looked out the east windows and saw our huge old trees bending at threatening angles. The wind was so strong off the lake it literally lifted water from the lake and slammed it into our outer walls seventy feet away.

I saw incredible lightning within the dark clouds out over the lake. But we never got a drop of rain. Just wind and incredible menacing cloud formations. For hours.

I’d never felt such strong winds before. And they lasted for hours. All through the night and early the next morning the winds eased, but not much. We didn’t get power until mid day on Friday. But we were lucky, many people were without power for a couple of days.

We learned the strait line winds that lasted for so long were 75 – 80 mph. When they lessened, it was to 45 mph which made cleaning up very difficult and dangerous for the utility crews trying to restore power.

An Example of A Downed Tree

During a Friday night newscast, I learned the weather forecasters were calling it a “once in a lifetime storm.”  That’s what I had told my Alaska son once we got phone service restored. I know I never experienced such a storm and I’ve lived through a lot of storms.

Our greatest devastation was the loss of very old trees. Ones that have been a beautifying part of our lakeshore ever since I remember going to the lake as a very little girl. When I drove into town yesterday, lines of trees and power poles were down for miles.

Our county and our lakeshore will miss the trees. I will not see such trees grace our shoreline in what remains of my life. The family who lost a son riding his motorcycle just as the storm hit and a huge tree fell on him will never have him in their lives again to share holidays, build more family memories, grow old.

I empathize with them. I buried two sons—both of them died during very bad and unusual weather events. John’s birthday was Friday but I wasn’t able to get out to the cemetery and yesterday was busy still cleaning up. However, I planned to go today only to learn the cemetery is closed because of all the huge old trees that are down. Maybe it will be open next week.

I wonder if the huge old oak tree which housed an owl family will be standing when I get there.

Bringing in the Big Trucks to Clear the Trees

That tree which shaded the plot where John and Jimbo are buried with their beloved grandparents, my parents, comforted me.

 I miss those two sons. Had they been alive they would have been out here with chain saws helping to cut away the storm’s debris. Instead I’m thinking they may be looking down on that cemetery oak tree whose fate I’m wondering about. They’re either discussing how the cemetery clean-up crew should go about removing it, or they’ll be glad that unlike them, that old tree managed to survive yet another Wisconsin storm.

Tomorrow is Independence Day. While you’re enjoying your picnic or day at the beach, look around you. Give thanks for those who are with you to share the day. Send a kind thought to those who no longer can be with you. Treasure each moment and place you are in.


Explore posts in the same categories: Holidays, Uncategorized, Weather

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6 Comments on “Once In A Lifetime”

  1. Edie Ramer Says:

    Mary Jo, once again you’ve made me feel deeply with just a few paragraphs. I hope when you go to the cemetery that the oak tree will still be up.

  2. Darlene Davies Says:

    Wonderful blog, as usual. I’m hoping for the best for your beloved oak tree. So many gone. I thought about you when I was driving up the lake shore yesterday and wondered how you weathered the storm. Glad to hear you are well.

  3. Elle J Rossi Says:

    Great post! I thought for sure we’d have a tornado or two pass through.

    Storms have the opposite effect on me. When my brother passed, we all decided the sound of thunder will be Bobby riding his Harley through the heavens, teaching the other angels how to ride. A dear friend of mine sketched me a picture of him on his Harley with the most beautiful angel wings I’ve ever seen. I’ve yet to frame it. While beautiful, it still deeply saddens me.

    Life is short, that’s for sure. I’m thankful for those in my life and for those who I will see again someday.

    Will you plant more trees? The task could be comforting.

  4. caseyclifford Says:


    When you tell me your reaction to my posts, I am humbled each time. Especially since I tend to second guess myself with some of what I write.

    Have a great 4th!

  5. caseyclifford Says:


    I’ll be sure to let you know the fate of the oak tree. Yes, we will plant some trees as I’m sure the city will in the parks, but I will not live to see them be the magnificent ones such as the ones we lost. Trees have wonderful long lives. 🙂

  6. caseyclifford Says:

    Elle, I love the image of your brother on his Harley. And with wings. Somehow when I think of angels I get the image of John Travolta in his movie, Michael, remember that? Now I’m able to add another image. Thanks for sharing.

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