With the humidity sticking to our foreheads underneath the unrelenting sun and the bees buzzing a little too close for comfort, my friend, Rachel, traces a thorny branch with her fingers deep into one of our overgrown rosebushes. “The perfect place to cut back,” she says while gripping the branch at its fork in the road, “is right here at the knuckle.”
I squeeze the shears in close to her fingertips “Here?” I ask, guiding the dried out stem in between the blades. Rachel nods. I chop.
Our dozens of rosebushes tower over us here at the ranch. They haven’t seen a good clipping, clearly, in some time. Their arms reach up towards the roof of the house while others tumble across the grass. Tiny vines of some sort have spiraled throughout. Branch after branch, Rachel points out where to trim back– the base of withered bud’s stems – to ensure maximum flower re-growth. It’s therapeutic after a while, trimming rosebushes – chop out the old to make way for a cleaner new.
As we’re clipping, a gust of wind picks up the leaves…the branches…our hair. Startled, we step back from our trimming to find that out of nowhere, slate-colored, low-hanging clouds have swirled across the sky. They wisp in different directions and sporadically reach down towards the horizon. These are tornado clouds.
The chimes clang out of control and the chickens have shown themselves into their coop as if they know exactly what’s brewing. The wind howls. Before we can make it to the door, we’re pelted with fat, chilly raindrops.
This particular storm was the beginning of what would become a tragedy for much of the state of Texas. In 1927, an unnamed state meteorologist said, “Texas is a land of perennial drought, broken by the occasional devastating flood.” So true is the devastation that many Texas families and businesses have been living this week. The viral photos circling social media are those made in nightmares. My deepest sympathies go out to all those who have lost loved ones and been displaced during the wild weather we’ve been witnessing.
A few stormy days later – the ground a swampy wasteland – King Ranch and I stand at our window watching our donkey named Bunny stand alone in the pasture as marble-sized hail begins to fall. There are very few things I’ve seen in my life that are more upsetting than a lonely donkey standing with her head down in a hail storm. I want to embrace her. I want to invite her in and give her hot tea and cookies. Why isn’t she in her stable?
A few weeks ago, I used treats to lead Bunny over to the stable as it began to rain so she would know where she could seek shelter during a storm. Before we moved in, she didn’t have access to it – it belonged to the horses only. Perhaps her sad, uncovered stance was habitual for her. The horses always got the stable while Bunny was left out in the rain. Poor girl.
I slip on my rubber boots and grab a hat so I can try and lead her into her stable again. Just as I’m headed towards the door, King Ranch says, “Come here! Look!”
Back at the window, we watch Bunny slowly saunter into her shed. She remembers! My heart swells with pride. She remembers her stable.
Hours later, the storm breaks into a stunning, golden sunset. The trees are silhouettes in front of its glow. King Ranch, Little Foot and I stand in awe. The yard is covered in an Instagram-like glow. I look at King Ranch who is holding Little Foot. They both admire in the same way – their one eyebrow lifted and lips slightly open. I tear up.
I’ll admit, there have been moments of stress with an identity crisis I’ve developed by moving from that big-city life to the slower days of the ranch. That unshakeable feeling of needing to be somewhere or doing something consumes me when I try to kick back on the patio. But much like the overgrown and unkempt rosebushes, my edges just need some long-overdue TLC. Much like Bunny, I need to get used to feeling the comfort of a new home instead of always feeling a little left out. And much like this storm, there will be that gorgeous sunset that follows the chaos which begins the healing process.
We all get a little rough around the edges sometimes. We all have been left out in the rain. And we’ve all wondered when the sun will shine again. It will. It always will. Rachel assures me that I will be shocked with how soon the new rosebuds will grow. I look forward to seeing them bloom.
Chop out the old to make way for a cleaner new.