There’s a tree on our barn/future house. Actually, two trees. Two large pine trees that fell quietly on a windy night and greeted us with their jaw-dropping, tear-inducing, absurdly-beautiful presence the next morning. It wasn’t the best start to a day I’ve ever had.
We’d been well-warned by the little red exclamation point on our weather apps that there would be some high winds at the end of this past week. We don’t have any animal houses yet, and there’s not too much going on in the garden at this point, so our biggest concern was the greenhouse we built recently. It’s a temporary (and not super sturdy) structure, and when we built it we said multiple times that we thought it would do the trick while we need it so long as a strong wind didn’t pick it up and carry it away. When I saw the weather forecast, I thought for sure these comments would come back to bite us. Tim and I both had restless nights on Thursday as we woke up to the sound of howling wind. We separately made several trips downstairs to check on the greenhouse, and let out a sigh of relief each time we saw it intact. We never even thought to look over at the barn, and it wasn’t until daylight that Tim caught a glimpse of a strange silhouette in the corner of his eye and looked over to see that our barn/house had a new addition to the roof.
It was a hard sight to absorb. At first, we thought we might have really lucked out. The tree didn’t look that big, and from the house it appeared to be resting gently atop an unscathed roof. But we weren’t seeing the whole picture, and on closer look we realized that not one but two trees had fallen, and that there was potentially more damage and certainly a whole lot more unplanned work ahead.
It certainly could have been worse. We weren’t actually living there yet, for one. No one was hurt. The barn is still standing and the roof is (mostly) still intact. The damage we can currently see are some branches that came down through the roof and our oh-so-recently-hung drywall in our bedroom and the bathroom. The backdoor is also hard to open, but we’re not sure whether that’s just from the weight of the tree, or whether some rafters cracked and are sagging.
It could be worse….but it still feels pretty dang awful. This barn project has been the sole focus of our lives for several months, and a huge part of our lives for well over a year. We’ve been working so hard and trying to be patient with ourselves and with the process as we learn and labor and do what needs to be done before we move in. We were so excited to see the end of drywall in sight (it’s been a mentally and physically exhausting process), we were looking at paint colors and thinking about cabinets and finish work, and then–wham! a huge tree slams down on our barn and (at least momentarily) crushes our plans and excitement.
It’s been easy to wonder: “why now? why us?”. The barn’s been at the edge of this woods for 40 years with never a tree down. After the wind storm we saw so many other fallen trees that managed to miss cars, houses, but for some reason that pine tree came for us. In the same breath, it’s easy to say: “why not now? why not us?” With the increasing amount of climate-driven storms and natural disasters, I’ve often wondered when I would be directly impacted. So here it is. And it doesn’t even come close to matching the amount of damage and loss that people around the world face because of hurricanes and drought and tornadoes. We’ve still got a place to live. There were no lives lost or even minor injuries. We will still move ahead with our building project and, with just a bit of setback from this tree, move in to the barn/house we’ve been planning and dreaming about.
Perspective. It’s good to get perspective. Anabel’s helped with that. Tim and I will hopefully one day look back on this and laugh and shrug our shoulders. Anabel seems ready to see the humor now. When she first saw the tree, she pointed and said with clear glee in her voice: “Look at that tree! It climbed up on the roof!”
Unfortunately, I don’t have a two-year-old’s perspective, and it’s hard to see the humor when I start to think about the work ahead cleaning up that tree and repairing the roof and re-hanging the drywall….oh, the drywall. I’m guessing in the weeks ahead there will be swings between healthy perspective and wallowing self-pity. In the midst of those swings, what I’m trying to do is to breathe and to remember that we have the rest of our lives in this place. We are centering so much of our lives and work on this patch of land, which makes events like this both all the more bearable and all the more infuriating. Even after being here a relatively short amount of time, we are so invested here. Which means even when it’s not something as dramatic as a tree falling on our future house, we will be so impacted by the challenges, the heartaches, as well as the immense gifts and joys that the land presents to us. When those challenges and heartaches come, we grieve, yes, we complain and cry, but we also adjust, we move ahead, and we are surprised by the gratitude that comes with a new day, with the sight of sunshine touching the ridges of the mountain, with the beauty of this place and our connection to it.
We planted spinach transplants a day and a half after the tree fell. It was a good reminder of that newness, that hope, that gratitude. With the shadow of a tree-adorned barn falling over us, we placed tender green leaves into the soil and thought with excitement about the season ahead. Holey-drywall, pine trees, damaged roof, and all.