Turning Lemons into Lemonade

by Diana Rankin


Tree - leaf canopy
Tree – leaf canopy (Photo credit: blmiers2)

It makes me happy to see the preverbal glass half full rather than half empty; to make lemonade out of a lemon; and to turn an upside down situation right-side up. I’m pretty optimistic, but sometimes it sure takes a lot of hard work to stay up when the world just keeps pulling you down.


                Friday, while watching out the 12-foot windows in my office, 80 mile-per-hour winds swept by taking with them uprooted trees, ripping off the roof of the pharmacy across the street, tearing away a portion of the tower on the courthouse, and blowing out windows one floor above me causing flooding in my neighbor’s office and overflowing hastily arranged trashcans that had been strategically placed to catch the downpour coming through the ceiling.
                Smart phones are smart to have in a storm. Checking mine, I saw a line that traversed the whole State of Ohio and then some. My home was in the track of the storm. I live in a woods. I knew there was damage, and I just wanted to get home. 
Prudence kept me in the office until the storm passed. The drive home showed me that was sensible. Trees and branches were down everywhere—on people’s homes, cars, across the streets.  My concern grew for my four-legged kids, my home, and the outbuilding where we hold workshops. I knew there was damage and yet I knew everything was okay. For the last year, I had experienced the phenomenon of witnessing storms pass north and south of me, almost in my yard, but my home stayed in an alley of sun between dark, often ominous clouds. This time felt different. There was no alley of sunshine. This storm went right through my land.
Home. My 900 foot lane seemed awfully long. There was debris from the trees along the lane; one pine tree with two major branches missing, one flung into the corn field, the other on its side, sap oozing onto the grass as though the pine still had tears to shed and was asking the earth to nurture it. Not so bad, I thought, and then I turned into the bend under the tall trees at the edge of the woods. Destruction in the side yard. A foot-wide upper branch from the saggy bark hickory had twisted and was turned upside down, collapsed against trunk. Leaves that this morning soared freely 60 feet above the earth now slumped against the ground, the upper part of the branch still tied to the trunk as though it knew where it belonged and it didn’t want to let go.
 My kids did not greet me from their fenced-in acre, now full of fallen debris from oak and maple trees. The garage door, behind which I wanted to find two healthy dogs, moved upward on its rungs about as quickly as a fast-food line at lunch time. Finally Freddie ducked under the door and came running out; Lacey perked up from her princess pillow, and looked just fine, although scared. Next to check were the cats—Sophia, Lily, and Petey. They were waiting on the other side of the door and began purring and meowing and rubbing against my legs almost before I was inside.  
My gratitude for their wellbeing couldn’t have been stronger. The same is true for the protection of my home and workshop building. The land, well it looked like what you’d expect when 80 mile per hour winds come through, something like tangled long hair after a troubled night’s sleep. There’s no accounting for the disarray. I was just grateful the rearrangement of the yard, compliments of the storm, wasn’t any worse. It was certainly an opportunity to make some lemonade.
In the back yard, feet away from the roof, a cottonwood lay sprawled across the west side of the once-flowering shade garden. A couple of feet across at its base, the trunk still stood about 25 feet  up where it had split gape-toothed and fallen. Once a grand tree that shaded the deck, the tree had been cut in half and then some. Cottonwood leaves now shivered against leaves of garden hosta plants and wren houses buried beneath the tree’s branches. 
A few feet away was the jagged stump of a tulip poplar. Beside it, the once glorious tree, its trunk stretched out all the way to the meadow at the end of the yard, her branches and leaves spread across the grass like a lady’s skirt on a summer picnic before the symphony. In the woods, more trees were down, but they were not an immediate concern. These were—the cottonwood and tulip poplar in the back yard and the hickory in the side. Everything else was clean-up that I could handle with several hard days, but these trees required a chainsaw strength I don’t have.
The handyman brought his chainsaw and got much of the cottonwood cutup on Saturday. A friend’s ex-husband helped out when he came by with his new wife to borrow my generator for his ex-wife, whose electricity was out.  Some of the wood would go with him for my friend’s wood-burning furnace.  A neighbor came by with his big John Deere tractor to try to pull down the remaining of the hickory and cottonwood. John Deere lost this one. That old hickory wouldn’t come down with a chain attached to a 4-wheel drive dual-wheeled truck either. The tractor’s wheels spun; the truck’s rear end lifted into the air, and the branch stayed put. It will take a man in a bucket with a chainsaw to get the hickory branch down and to bring down the rest of the cottonwood from where it’s holding on.
Once we get all the wood onto the ground and cut to size, an Amish craftsman man will haul off the larger pieces to turn into furniture and pallets. The remainder of the logs will go for helping a friend stay warm in the cold months. The brush went into piles in the woods for small animals to build nests in.
Certainly lemonade had been made from this lemon—the handyman had work; the friend has wood for the winter; the craftsman has wood to craft; and I had a cleaned-up yard—at least for a little while. Another storm blew threw on Sunday whipping and winding itself around those tall trees, but except for a few small branches and leaf debris, they all stayed upright. I guess they decided I had enough lemonade for one weekend.
© 2012 Diana Rankin
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