The Suitcase Lady


June 20, 2017, 9:50 pm

The beach in front of our house looks like a giant has been playing pick up sticks with the trees. All down the shoreline, major trees are uprooted, their trunks crisscrossing the beach, their leaves and needles torn off by the waves. This spring has been a wild one.

Twenty feet of our cliff was ripped out in two days by nine foot waves exposing yards of tangled roots. It’s a scene of mass destruction. It’s also totally natural.

Living beside the world’s fifth largest lake is an amazing experience and a privilege. When we mention the recent events to friends, they start to give us sympathy. We appreciate the kindness directed our way. But we also try to explain that we are not upset or sad. Our house is not in jeopardy as it is far back from the cliff. Nature is just doing what nature does….cliffs erode, sands shift daily, trees turn into driftwood as lake levels rise and fall.

We both admit it was hard to watch the waves rip out 40 foot tall birch trees that were just leafing out. Ditto for a dozen little pine trees including the one we did not harvest for last year’s Christmas tree.

But action is better than fretting. At the height of the waves’ fury, we donned rain gear and rubber boots, went down the cliff and did a rescue operation. This was not reckless, but it was a muddy, wind-whipped, wet and hard job.

My husband literally grabbed and untangled little pines trees as they were being lashed about by the waves. Then we hauled them up the stairs with their bare roots trailing behind like streamers. We planted all the refugees immediately, fully realizing that all would not make it but wanting to give them a chance.

It is now about six weeks later. We have a number of brave little survivors pushing out new green needles. With luck, they will see many sunrises and sunsets, and, when they grow up, provide a home for future generations of birds, squirrels and myriad other wildlife.

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