Aftermath (There’s Something Funny Going On)

(1) There’s something funny going on around here, something that will probably have a happy ending once the dust has settled. For example, the guys who have gutted our old kitchen and completely renovated the beast are likely to receive a company award for the best “Before and After Kitchen” of the year, if not the decade.DSCN9151

(2) There’s something funny going on around here, something that, unfortunately, doesn’t have a lot to do with trout fishing. It has more to do with heat and extreme weather conditions, like having a twister blow through my valley where there hasn’t been a twister in, how long, a thousand years, if ever?

(3) There’s something funny going on around here, something like giving a public reading from my books in Wellsville, N.Y., then going out and having a few beers with my brother. These events may have led to my waking up at 3 a.m. because the cat was barfing someplace in the hallway, which led to a broken toe because I jumped out of bed and crashed into some unforgiving piece-of-crap furniture.

DSCN9159(4) There’s something funny going on around here, something like the big 60th birthday party for my wife when we had wonderful people visiting from far and wide, a few of whom performed a “rain dance” around our bonfire one night, a dance that, in retrospect, was probably over the top. We got our needed rain eventually, but we also got a breeze that changed our lives a bit too suddenly.

(5) There’s something funny going on around here, something like touring Buffalo and Niagara Falls with my son and future in-laws, eating the best Buffalo-style chicken wings and drinking craft beers, then standing near the brink of Niagara waterfalls listening to some guy chirping about all that water and how mankind, with its brain and technological prowess, can control that immense energy. Yeah, I thought, to a point.DSCN9169

(6) There’s something funny going on around here, something like walking down to the beaver pond early in the morning of the day the storm came around, and meeting Andy there with his binoculars and a pitchfork. He was looking like the Mad Farmer of Nutville, so I asked him what the fork was for.DSCN9179

“Well, I was sitting here last night on my 4-wheeler, wondering what’s been happening to the young beavers, when one of the adults came up from the dam and charged me!”

I reflected, then, a little more about rain dancing and the power of Niagara Falls, not to mention the emotive state of pissed-off beaverhood. I remembered my brother’s comment that he’d begun rereading Bellows’ “Henderson the Rain King.” Stuff like that.DSCN9197

(7) There’s something funny going on around here, something like seeing a tornado, or panoramic wind sheer, come blowing through this place where there had never been one to my knowledge, where there had been little more than a forecast of a possible heavy storm. I hadn’t seen a wind like this in 35 years of living in Bootleg Hollow; I’d never felt an impact like this twister even though I once survived two years of living in Tornado Alley, South Dakota.DSCN9198

(8) There’s something funny going on around here, something that will have a happy ending once the sawdust settles and the final house repairs are done. Fortunately the last of our guests from the birthday celebration had departed from their lawn chairs two hours earlier and gone home; the final cups of coffee had been drunk in peaceful sun and shadow, and the stage had been reset.DSCN9214

I was sitting here at the computer, thinking there was something funny going on in Greenwood Vale, when the woods out front began to roar– not like the proverbial lion but more like a giant waterfall. The trees put on their coats of darkness and began to bow… I’ve never really doubted the scientific claims that now (with climate change occurring globally) our weather events could be more and more extreme, and I wasn’t about to change my mind at this point.

Branches and lawn chairs blew across my window view.DSCN9217

I had two Norway spruce trees in the front yard, both of them very healthy looking, each of them 100 feet tall. The top half of one spruce snapped free and crashed into one of my 70-foot sugar maple trees and, together, they slammed into my two-story roof just above my head where I had jumped up thinking, there’s something not quite right about all this.DSCN9208

I was home alone with two frightened cats. The power had gone out, and I called for help. I got my help in spades– when the road from town was finally cleared of fallen trees and roof parts from a damaged barn. Later, I understood that there was something funny going on when, after paying for insurance years on end and not seeing any benefits, I suddenly had a reason to enjoy it.DSCN9222

An amazing surgical operation involving heavy machinery and human expertise finally lifted the trees from the house. No one was hurt in any of this craziness. The holes in the roof had let in some rain that was needed more on the lawn than in the house, but our new kitchen (almost completed when the storm arrived) was spared, barely.DSCN9220

(9) There’s something funny going on, something like having to take a chainsaw to clear a pathway to the front door of your house, then spending the next seven days getting the home back into shape and clearing off the lumber. Thankfully, we had lots of help in all of this and, yeah, the twister could have been a real disaster.DSCN9199

Our kitchen guy is up for an award, and I think he’ll get it. As for me, I’m up for a change of pace, as well… I wonder what it’s like to drift a dry fly on a sparkling mountain current with nothing too funny going on.

[P.S., I had good dry fly Anting on the Wiscoy… Stay tuned for more on this!]

there's no room for prejudice at this tourist attraction...

there’s no room for prejudice at this tourist attraction…

lily of the falls...

lily of the falls…

glad it didn't get MY tree...

glad it didn’t get MY tree…

About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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28 Responses to Aftermath (There’s Something Funny Going On)

  1. Les Kish says:

    Yowza! Danged tornados. Maybe you should have stayed in South Dakota. At least most of the house is intact.

    • Thanks, Les. I’m glad to be writing from a house that’s still intact and, of today, completely repaired. As for S. D., two years in eastern Dakota was more than plenty for me, although now I wouldn’t mind learning more about its western regions. As for cleaning up fallen trees and debris, I feel I just recreated the world of a fly-fisher, and now it’s time to relax.

  2. Brent says:

    So are the creeks and rivers at least running a bit stronger after all is said and done?

    • Brent says:

      By the way, I like the structure here too. Something funny going on in Steuben County, indeed…

      • The streams are flowing a little higher and stronger, but not much. Could use a lot more water, though I’ve got to be careful in saying this, I don’t want as much as Ellicott City got, by a long shot. Also, thanks for noting the connection to Something Funny in ole Steuben County!

  3. Tim Arey says:

    Walt glad you’re okay. Maine is hurting for rain. My grandfather told me this reminds him of the year “Maine Burned”. Nature needs the rain. The West Branch is even suffering with warm water.

    • Hey Tim, good to hear from ya! I was wondering if Maine was also suffering from the lack of rain, as we are. I guess it is. I wonder if “Maine burned” about the same time northern PA burned, early 1900s, from all the forest slashings left behind when the timber companies hit the road. Anyway, I’d been thinking of a return visit there this month, but it doesn’t sound good for the trout or the salmon. Hopefully I’ll get back later on. Thanks for reading, and best wishes out your way.

  4. Walt – glad to hear no one was injured! Storms can make a mess of things in a instant but the clean up takes a lot longer. We had a micro burst come through our neighborhood last summer. It took down some very large old trees and did a fair amount of damage. Fortunately no one was hurt and the damage was confined to a small area of town.

    • Thanks Mark. You’re right. It takes but an instant or two of darkness to do the damage, and then, assuming we’re able to help with the clean up, we’re in for a long haul of carrying wood and debris, like beavers do on night-shift.

  5. Anonymous says:

    There’s something funny going on when Walt Franklin is riding around on a 4 wheeler.

  6. marymaryone says:

    Glad to hear everyone is Okay. “Something funny going on” indeed!

  7. [I responded to the following in a private email… Thanks Scott (WF).]

    Sorry to hear about the house! I had not heard about any storm damage over your way. I was wondering if you had been getting out for any fishing, but I see now you had other things to worry about. In June I had two trees taken down in my yard, one a mostly dead ash that was dropping big branches where I set my hammock up in the shade, and a big 24” maple that was literally 8 feet from the corner of my house and overhung most of it. I have worried about what would happen if it ever came down (would have mashed the house or garage), so had it taken down. Turns out to have had no rot at all and probably would have outlived me. Ended up getting 5 cords of fire wood out of both trees, but a very big empty space over the house (and its lost shade of the house) to remind me now. I feel a bit better after seeing your situation. Hope it all works out okay and hope we get water to bother getting on the streams again.


  8. Kevin Frank says:

    I’m glad you survived the tornado and other conflicts. We’re always being tested.

  9. plaidcamper says:

    Glad to read the dust is beginning to settle, and the damage was mostly material – although you have to be jittery and suffering from a case of what ifs…and keeping an eye on the skies.
    Here’s hoping you return to what passes for peaceful, and that you can get back to dipping a (healing) toe in your rivers.

  10. Thanks much, Plaid. I’m dipping my sore toe (toes) back into the flow of things and, as you say, keeping a watchful eye on the dome of this existence, at least for a while. Here’s hoping your summer trails are fine ones.

  11. Doug says:

    Yeah for sure. There is always something funny going on, and unfortunately a storm like that takes you by surprise, especially when you are where they’re not supposed to be. Wrecking my back 5 years ago was due, in the aftermath of one of these storms. I am real happy that you and the wife managed to survive this storm without physical harm. Having insurance that will take care of the damage to the house and such, is also vital. Keep well my brother.

    • Reassuring words, Doug, thank you for that. Didn’t know that the back troubles were linked to the aftermath of something similar, though it’s easy for me to see how a big clean-up will do that to one. Was thinking it was work-related lifting issues. But yeah, we were lucky that it wasn’t worse here. Hope the balance of your summer is a happy one.

  12. Bob Stanton says:

    Glad to hear that everyone is OK, sorry to hear the house took the brunt of it. Does make you wonder though, that is, is this a portent of things to come, weather-wise? A little more than a month ago, a tornado cut a swath of destruction in Warren just a half mile above my house. No one was hurt, though some of the fancier homes sustained some damage. I don’t really recall ever hearing of tornado activity in our area till the F3s of ’85 that did so much harm. P.S. I’m in New Hampshire right now, just down the road from Robert Frost’s old place.

  13. I’m hoping that the extreme weather conditions occurring are not a portent of things to come, but I’m very pessimistic when considering man-made climate change. It both saddens and angers me. Now Bob, you probably should be off the grid for a few days, fully enjoying the wilds of N.H. no? But thanks for staying in touch. Say howdy to the Frost place for me and have a good time on the trails. I’m looking forward to visiting that area (Northeast Kingdom) later this month.

  14. Linda says:

    I love a good sense of humour. (enjoyed your photo captions) Your photos are beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing.

  15. Ross says:

    Sorry to hear about the loss of your two trees and the damage to your house. At least no one was hurt and the new kitchen spared. Loved the pic of the photogenic raccoon.

  16. All I can think to say is wow and glad no one was injured. I’m not a terribly religious person but even I’m beginning to think that we are being tested. You my friend will always pass with flying colors because of who and what you are. I love stories with happy endings.

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