I wasn’t aware that 2024 was the year I would enroll in Advanced Forestry 401, but here I am.

About a month ago, we were hit with a massive storm. The winds were immense. We lost quite a few trees, one of which was twisted at its base. I don’t know what kind of wind does that kind of craziness, but it was the Texas-sized wind that hit my neighborhood.

Tree twisted at its base after a storm

That morning, we lost power. I went outside to survey the damage and was overwhelmed. I had no idea what I was going to do. I ran some rough estimates of what it might cost to hire out cleanup. I was probably underestimating.

I just gasped.

For an idea of just a portion of what hit us, see before/after photos below.

This was before the storm hit. Trees! And many of them.
Immediately following storm, trees down and mangled.
Immediately following the storm. Like taking a direct hit.

A neighbor helped me with some of the larger jobs, and I’ve been working on the cleanup daily ever since. The more I work on the cleanup, the more I realize how much more there is to do. The beautiful trees had blocked much of the mess in the middle of our forest.

Since we moved in, I’ve ignored the forested part of the property throughout most of the year. Snakes, chiggers, ticks, and whatever was back there, I wanted no part of it. It was a brutal reminder of what I had been promised when I moved here. It reminded me of what I had lost, and what I wasn’t getting back.

When we bought the property, it felt a bit like the Shasta house with a treed backyard close to nature, a lake, and hiking trails. But the trails are not maintained, the yard is full of stickers, and the forested area floods during torrential downpours. Getting to the lake that’s back behind those trees is nearly impossible from our yard unless I’ve got an ATV and even then… no.

The trees blocked the view of what was back there. They were like a piece of black electrical tape over an engine warning light.


Realizing how much work needs to be done back there has actually been a relief. It allows me to let go and do what I can daily without feeling pressure to finish it. It will never be done; it requires constant maintenance and care. I’ve had to surrender to that.

And through doing so, I’m making peace with it and my role as caretaker. I might even be embracing it.

Early every morning before it gets too hot, I head back with my chainsaw, a metal cart (that I will eventually hook up to my tractor once I get it running), a spray bottle for the poison ivy, some work gloves, a sun shirt, and a water bottle. I’ve even successfully survived my first burn pile.


If you told me that I’d be doing this in my advanced years in the wilds of Texas singing along to Post Malone’s country era while I chainsaw away at brush and fallen trees, I would ask what you’ve been smoking.

I’ve embraced it. My small but mighty Milwaukee chainsaw lasts 30-60 minutes, depending on what I’m chopping up. When it’s done, that’s my canary to wrap it up.

It’s a great workout. Fill the cart with logs and push them up the steep hill on our property, and I feel everything. I learned the hard way that pulling uphill is for stupid people. Don’t be deceived by the handle. Push, don’t pull. There’s a lesson for life right there.

When the storm hit, I stood in the wind and accepted what it was bringing. Well, after the overwhelm. It’s hard to understand what the winds of change are trying to tell us when they’re still blowing.

Mammatus clouds over the neighborhood after the storm.

After one month of embracing the experience, I’ve learned one major thing: I am stronger than I think I am. I’m a survivor. I like country music more than I thought I did.

I bought myself a t-shirt that says, “I am the storm.” And I’m about ready to set off kites from a very grounded and connected place.

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