Suddenly Everything Seems Possible + Ice Storm Photos

23 Apr
This is what we woke up to the morning after the lights went out.  All the following ice photos are from that first day - all taken through our windows.   The snow photos were the second day, mostly also from our windows.  Finally, on the third day, we went outside as a family and saw the damage first hand.

This is what we woke up to the morning after the lights went out. All the following ice photos are from that first day – all taken through our windows. The snow photos were the second day, mostly also from our windows. Finally, on the third day, we went outside as a family and saw the damage first hand.

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The climbing tree, broken branches frozen to the ground

The climbing tree, broken branches frozen to the ground

Surveying the backyard.

Surveying the backyard.

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The pine trees were like Narnia - only the bad, evil witch part of Narnia.

The pine trees were like Narnia – only the bad, evil witch part of Narnia.

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A few shots around town.

A few shots around town.

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The golf course.

The golf course.

Not exactly a safe place to play right now.

Not exactly a safe place to play right now. I have heard many reports of eye injuries as people clean up the branches all over town.

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Yes, this is a power pole.  Or should I say, was.

Yes, this is a power pole. Or should I say, was.

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Nothing but splintered remains and criss-crossed lines.

Nothing but splintered remains and criss-crossed lines.

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Horray!

Horray!

Our saviors from Wadena.

Our saviors from Wadena.

And so the clean up begins.

And so the clean up begins.

I apologize for not posting these photos sooner…I couldn’t look at them without feeling ill. Seriously. I had to avoid them for a few days to get a little perspective.

The following is what I wrote on Wednesday morning, after the lights came on the night before. Allow me add that the power was back out on Wednesday night for a few hours, but that was because of a tremendous thunderstorm and lightning hitting a transformer…just what we all needed, right? It is Monday night now, almost one week later, and again we’re having snow and wind like crazy. It has been a wild couple of weeks that I really don’t want to re-live. On the good side, people were safe and there were very few injuries – mostly the injuries came later with damage to eyes when people were out cleaning up fallen branches. There are some streets that look like tunnels, the piles of branches are so huge. This will take weeks to clean up…months, perhaps. And years to get back our trees.

HOW MANY TIMES DO WE FLIP ON A LIGHTSWITCH WHILE LOOKING FOR A FLASHLIGHT WHICH WE NEED BECAUSE THE LIGHTS ARE OFF?!!! I think that everyone has done this in their lives.

So many switches were on in our house, and that’s how I knew the power had come back on because there were suddenly lights!

We’ve put away the flashlights. The dishes are gently rocking on the Anti-Bacterial setting in my dishwasher. A load of towels is “cooking” on high heat. I turned on my electric blanket last night, just because I could.

But the TV? You know, I kinda didn’t mind not having the TV on. Not having the internet bummed me out, I admit. But I really don’t have to compulsively check Facebook every half hour in order to be happy.

I tell you what does make me happy, though. Three men from Wadena, Minnesota – a town about 5 hours north of here – who restored our power last night, just two hours shy of one week exactly from when it went out. (The oven clock came back on and read 9:06 – it picked up right where it had left – almost as if time itself had stopped. As if the past week never happened.)

I looked up Wadena on my newly-restored internet and discovered that this town of 4,000ish suffered a terrible E-F 4 tornado three years ago. In other words, these men know what it is to suffer at the hand of nature. They know what it’s like to need help from others. They came down to my town so that they could give back what they received.

I told them, “Thanks for leaving your homes and your families to come down and lend us a hand.” They shrugged and mumbled and waved for my camera.

I am not usually given to dancing. But I danced last night.

Suddenly everything seems possible.

32 Responses to “Suddenly Everything Seems Possible + Ice Storm Photos”

  1. Beth Ann April 23, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    So glad you are back with power—the ice is beautiful but what it leaves behind not so beautiful. Lots of clean up and sad looking trees. Hopefully they will come back and the balance will be restored. Take care!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell April 23, 2013 at 10:25 am #

      Thanks, Beth Ann. Yes, there’s definitely beauty to be found – but the heart-sickness overwhelmed all that. The pictures don’t do it justice, that’s for sure.

  2. Minnesota Prairie Roots April 23, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    Oh, Gretchen, dear sweet Gretchen, it is simply heartbreaking to view these images. The splintered trees, the fallen branches look so like the damage caused by a tornado or fierce winds. And I know, having grown up on the prairie, how treasured are the trees. I hope there will be some sort of concerted effort to aid homeowners and the city in planting new trees.

    I thought of you last night when our power flickered several times and then went out. Thankfully the outage was a brief 15 minutes.

    Thank you for pouring out your heart to us in words and photos. I just wish you and all the others living in your corner of southwestern Minnesota had been spared this destructive ice storm. That said, you seem to possess the proper perspective in realizing the true blessing of no serious injuries.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell April 23, 2013 at 10:21 am #

      Yes, it’s so good that people were safe – though as I mentioned there has been some eye damage – some pretty severe. Wear glasses when picking up branches!!!! And you’re right – it does look like a tornado went through. Crazy.

      • Minnesota Prairie Roots April 23, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

        OK, then, eye damage that was “pretty severe” sounds frightening. Do you know firsthand someone to whom this happened? How specifically are these injuries happening? Anytime you’re talking compromise of vision, it’s not good.

        • Gretchen O'Donnell April 23, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

          I know the wife of one of the optometrists in town. She said that their business has been CRAZY since the storm with eye injuries from people being poked by branches they are picking up. One was so bad they had to send the person to Sioux Falls. The poor guys eyeball was falling out. How’s that for an answer?!

  3. masqua April 23, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    You have documented weather event perfectly. It was the same where I live in Perth County, Southwestern Ontario. A wide area of destruction and thousands without power for up to 4 days, including us.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell April 23, 2013 at 10:12 am #

      So you can relate! It’s an adventure, isn’t it – but adventures that you don’t seek out may not always be adventures that you wanted to experience. Thanks so much for your comments!

      • masqua April 23, 2013 at 10:57 am #

        My pleasure, for certain.
        The strange fact of it all was my unexpected reaction in that I was almost disappointed when the power returned. We had plenty of candles, heat and hot water with natural gas, plus I also had a wind-up Grundig radio (which didn’t require batteries) to keep up on local news, so that the only inconvenience was not being able to prepare hot meals other than on the barbeque. All in all, I grew to forget about the computer and television and spend my time reading and painting.

        The solitude was strangely pleasing. :D

        • Gretchen O'Donnell April 23, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

          Yes, I can relate. I have a gas stove so I could cook, which was a blessing. but yes, I could do without some stuff just fine…but heat, that’s always nice to have! I hope that you and I both have learned to simplify a little through this!

        • masqua April 23, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

          The beauty of being tested is finding those things we need to change.

        • Gretchen O'Donnell April 23, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

          Well said!

  4. Clyde of Mankato April 23, 2013 at 9:52 am #

    I remember those feelings about switches and then light!! Sorry ’bout the damage.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell April 23, 2013 at 10:22 am #

      I think almost every light switch in the house had been flipped on! Silly, isn’t it? Habits…

  5. treadlemusic April 23, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    Breathtakingly heartbreaking! Am so thankful that the headlines told of the many “natural” losses rather than lives lost. Having said that, as we live in a very rural, electric dependent area, I can totally empathize with what you have portrayed in that moving photo recap. Looking at that photo of your backyard brought back many thoughts of overwhelming sadness for similar events here but these overtaken with thankfulness that we are able to be here and have the strength to clean away the debris to make way for tomorrow. I am so grateful, also, for all those who came distances to help you out! It is a “breath of fresh air” to read such positive actions in a day when the headlines report so much of the darkness! Blessings and hugs that Spring will soon be with us (not just on the calendar!!!), Doreen

    • Gretchen O'Donnell April 23, 2013 at 10:23 am #

      It is good when people work together – there’s something about that that intensifies relationships – people you’ve lived near for ages but never talked to, out helping each other – hopefully those friendships will grow!

  6. Alice April 23, 2013 at 10:21 am #

    Oh, dear. Ice storms can be stunningly beautiful as in your photos, but they are so devastating. Those poor splintered trees. Then snow to follow and lots of it. And no power. And it’s spring! Glad you are able to get warm again and see at the flip of a switch.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell April 23, 2013 at 10:24 am #

      Thanks, Alice. Yes, I know that I will take power for granted again…but I hope that I think a little harder about some of those things – and appreciate them and those who provide them a little more!

  7. cravesadventure April 23, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    OMG – that much ice is not friendly – great captures – love the sand pail!!! Have a Great One:)

  8. gardenfreshtomatoes April 23, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    What a winter it’s been…Our last storm was a month ago, but the big grinders are still out daily, chewing up the remains of the giants that went down. The landscape is greening, but it’s a foreign country right now – we’re still looking around for the familiar landmarks that cracked and broke…
    Wishing you more warmth soon – and steady power.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell April 23, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

      Yes, it’s not just in the Midwest that we’ve had weird and terrible weather. I’m sorry that you’ve had to endure it, too. I think that I will LOVE spring as never before – and it’s always my favorite season!

  9. Hotly Spiced April 23, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

    I’ve never seen ice like that. And so much damage to your landscape. It’s made the area look so barren. And those poor little birds – how do they survive? So glad to hear you have the power back on – you must have had a very trying and cold week xx

    • Gretchen O'Donnell April 23, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

      I know – the birds actually seemed to be ok. One of our feeders was all frozen but two others they were able to eat from. I’m ready to write about other things now!

  10. Lee Anne April 23, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

    Stunning pictures. They definitely gave me the Narnia White Witch feeling. Yikes!

  11. fatips April 27, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    great captures Gretchen (y). have a nice week end!

  12. Marylin Warner April 29, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

    Ice storms wreck such havoc, but they do have amazing details to consider, almost magical. Excellent pictures.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell April 30, 2013 at 6:48 am #

      Thanks so much! Yes. It is a bizarre combination of beauty and destruction. All in all, the beauty doesn’t make it worth it, though! Not compared to the ugliness it left behind…

  13. Sartenada May 3, 2013 at 4:01 am #

    Great photos. These kinds of things happen in our winter also in Finland.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell May 3, 2013 at 7:25 am #

      I can imagine! It is so devastating – it will take months for everything to get cleaned up. I’m looking forward to the leaves coming on the trees so at least the damage will be hidden!

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