Saturday, May 30, 2009
One Year Ago, at WillOaks Campground
This part of northern Illinois is prone to the same tornadoes and other violent weather as Iowa, Kansas and other parts of "tornado alley." Last year, we were open for business here at the WillOaks Campground, about this time in May, and we had just hosted a father-son picnic for a local church in our events pavilion. The next day, some kind of very, very strong wind burst through from the south, sending campers into their cars to flee the area. After the dust settled, WillOaks Campground was permanently altered. All told, we lost 8 big trees, but the worst was the loss of our events pavilion.
It seemed that wind blew under the roof, lifted it up, moved it several feet north, then let it crash to the ground, effectively turning 20 picnic tables into toothpicks. We're still recycling some of the wood we were able to salvage; the trees were cut and split for firewood; the concrete pad that was left behind has become a basketball half court, thanks to the donation of a free standing hoop. The barn swallows who had already built their nests in the rafters of the pavilion suddenly found their homes and their babies on the ground, which was especially sad to me as they were too young to fly away.
When living this close to nature, one learns to accept the violence and destruction much as one prefers to experience the beauty and wonders, both grand and small. It can be shocking to the system at first (we had to cancel the events schedule for 2008) but eventually, accommodations are made and life goes on. I did note, a couple of days ago, that swallows were perched on fence posts nearby and I wondered if they were remembering all those lovely pavillion rafters where generations of kin had been born. I wonder if I can provide some kind of alternative nesting sites for them to use instead? Or maybe, they have adapted and figured it out for themselves because there are several swooping for flying insects all over the farm as I write. Life goes on....