Walking On the Eve Of the Storm


I’m taking my morning walk. Nothing unusual about that except that today I am taking an inventory. Tomorrow, it is predicted, the tentacles of an enormous hurricane will coil themselves around this very road and trail. When the skies are blue again and the rain has died, what will have changed?

The trees, for one. Some of the branches will be torn away and perhaps some of the old oaks will come crashing down, and of course there are the leaves. For look, it has taken weeks for gold to finally enfold my favorite maple, and those leaves are already trembling in the light breeze. What will happen to these leaves when the storm has gone away to do damage elsewhere? Yes, the sun will shine again, but will it glisten gold through these tender leaves?

Watching the leaves dance…

            A reminder that in life

            all are fragile.

I walk past the golden maple and find that there is a new rosebud  on the bush nearest the road. It is perfectly shaped, ruby red, and oh, so elegant in design. A friend once said that a rosebud is pure poetry—and though I agree, I know the poem in this small rosebud’s heart might be a sad one. Will the storm rip it away? Will its carefully folded petals be ragged? I sigh as I walk on.

Further along the road graceful willow branches bow low and sweep the ground, and I remember that a willow has shallow roots. Though this tree looks buff and hearty, it has a hidden weakness that can topple it if the winds are strong enough. “Stay strong,” I tell the tree, “hold your ground and don’t give in!” Perhaps it hears me, because the long willow branches quiver.

So often the strong

            Seem impervious to harm,

            But storms have power.

Storms tap into our atavistic fear of darkness, of a fierce power and energy beyond our control. As a species we are powerful and technologically advanced. We have the knowledge to tap a keyboard and communicate with people half a world away, and we can control atoms and gaze out into the far reaches of space. But the weather is still beyond our reach, and there is always within us that knot of fear that clouds will rush in to blot out the sun and the wind will bellow and the lights will go out. At such times we take shelter and huddle close to those we love and hope that the lash of rain and wind will spare us one more time.

There are storms and storms, I remind myself. Some pass by like a puff of smoke; not all of them do unspeakable damage. This one may do just that. Even if we escape the worst of its sting, the monster in the sky is on a track to wreak havoc and destruction to the north. Friends live there. People I don’t know but who I would like so much to call Friend live there….

A sudden rustle makes me turn, and I see a bush, a prickly, leafless bush that stands at the very edge of someone’s yard. There seems nothing interesting about this bush, but them I see that there is a mockingbird inside the bush. He (or she?) is hopping from prickly branch to branch as if looking for something.

Looking for what? There is nothing to eat on this bush, and if the bird wanted shelter there are leafier trees around. But then I see the nest carefully constructed between trunk and branch. The nest is empty now, for its fledglings have all flown. I watched as the mockingbird reconnoiters, turning its head this way and that, chirping softly as if to itself.

            Perhaps the mocking bird is taking inventory, too, checking its old home, making sure that all is snug and safe—which is, after all, all that anyone can do. Then as I watch, the bird emerges from the bush, flies to the nearest tree branch, and begins to sing.

Its song is so energetic and saucy in the oppressive air that it makes me smile. As if realizing it has an appreciative audience, the mockingbird builds up steam. Gloom, it seems to say, isn’t for this bird. If the nest comes to harm, I will rebuild. Wind? Well, let it come. Rain? More earthworms for everybody. And tomorrow the sun will shine again.

Of course the mockingbird is right, for there is a wisdom and tenacity in all life. Stormwinds cannot disrupt the life force for long, and so all that is beautiful and good will endure. The storm will pass, the sun will shine again, the damaged world will draw strength and purpose and rebuild. And if not this year, then next year my favorite tree will once again shower us all with gold.

In heart of all things

            There are whispers of new life…

            A promise of hope.


“Storm Clouds”


About Maureen C. Wartski

I’m Maureen Wartski, writer, artist, wife, mother, grandmother; you can see that I have many of the bases covered. I was born in Ashiya, Japan, a (then) small town which lay cradled between sea and mountains. In the evenings, we would walk along the road that ran past Osaka Bay, and a great moon would rise out of the water to turn the world to silver. I’m told that my first words were, “Big moon!” All my life I have felt the tug to write something, draw something, put together something with fabric, string and color, and the urge to create has grown through the years. I suppose, then, that it’s a natural thing that this blog be full of the things that so many of you enjoy doing…drawing, making something with fabric, and writing. Yuri's Brush with Magic, my newest book for middle schoolers follows the adventures of a brother and sister, the magic of words, and the incredible magic of the natural world. I'd love to hear from you! You can send me a note at: maureen@wartski.org/ My blog is here: https://maureenwartski.wordpress.com/ Or friend me on Facebook!

10 responses »

    • I walked this morning, Linda, and my poor tree was shorn of its golden leaves. A few held on, though… the willow stood firm, and believe it or not that rose is flowering! Nature is stronger than we think…. Thanks for reading, my friend.

  1. Maureen, this is perhaps your best posting to date for me!! There is so much life force expressed within yet there is also the awareness of our evanescent life circumstances whether positive or negative. Your philosophy of life mirrors my own. You express it all so beautifully through prose, poetry, quilting and graphic arts. How fortunate are we who are able to share all that you offer us in this special space. I am so grateful that we fared well during and after the monster storm Sandy.

    Thanks for all you have given and for all you have yet to give. Much love, Fran

    • I am so grateful that you didn’t get the brunt of this terrible storm! I used this post as a sort of catharsis… really, I don’t like storms of any kind! Still, the sun is shining today and the roses have managed to bloom! Isn’t life amazing?
      love you, Fran….

  2. Thank you for your cheering, lovely meditation. I came to your blog tired and doubting that there was anything new to say on the topic, but you’ve refreshed me.

    • Thank you, Mary…. and I agree that there is not much more to say about these dreadful storms. The force and power of nature both amazes and frightens me. But today the sun shines, the roses have managed to keep blooming, and the birds are singing. I wish that I had their courage!

  3. Maureen, I love this painting. (It is a painting, isn’t it?) I love the way that you’ve captured the movement of the sea and the sky. i can recognize the heavy, and often beautiful clouds that presage the coming storm. Love, Sue

  4. Yes, it’s a painting… and I always seem to paint these ominous clouds! I fear the power of nature and yet it is so glorious and brave! I wrote this post as a sort of catharsis because I hated being afraid of the coming storm. Now the sun is shining and the birds warble. Amazing, isn’t it? The Life Force just won’t quit. Love you, Sue…

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