April 24 • 06:40 PM

Counting the minutes to...peace

March 15, 2017
Noon, Wed. March 8. It feels like someone poured molasses in the clock while turning the ceiling fans up to tornadic activity level as I sit here at the office. Huddled in front of the computer on my desk as if it will offer some sort of extra protection, I do anything and everything to ignore what's happening around me.

Wind gusts feel like they'll literally lift the building off its foundation, like I'm Dorothy in Oz without the cute dress and basket. And without Toto, too.

I'm worried about my own Toto—Tino the Magnificent. The Maine Coon rescue cat who's been my faithful companion for the past four years. He's stuck in the bunkers at the old homestead. Surrounded by waving treetops, flying branches and the scary, moaning/screaming sound that the wind makes when it's bullying its way through the door frames and roof vents. While I'm fearful of what's going on in my little slice of paradise gone wild, I'm nowhere near brave enough to venture out there to take a look.

1:45 p.m. I can no longer avoid the dentist appointment that I've been cancelling and rescheduling for the past six weeks as my mom recovers from an illness. At least that's what I'm thinking when I get in the vehicle and head down to the beautiful Almont offices of Great Lakes Family Dental Group. In a rush as usual, I park rather hastily in the almost-empty lot and dash through the lobby to the front office where the office staff sits. I'm greeted by smiling faces as I blurt out in a breath "I'm a little late for a 2 o'clock appointment today." The staff looks at me like I've lost the rest of my mind.

Denise whips out a flashlight and shines it toward me. "We can do interrogations here today, ma'am, but we can't do any dentistry," she grins. We all laugh. The power is out. It had gone out just ten minutes earlier and unlike in the past hour, the employees say this time it appears to be off for good. That's when I know my power's out, too. And that perhaps this particular dentist appointment just isn't meant to be.

Regardless, whenever there's an outage in Almont, there are some dark spots on Cochrane humble abode being one of them. I am forced to go there to see what's going on. I do. No trees on the house or barn or duck coop. In fact, the ducks are on such high alert they easily follow my lead into their semi-safe haven that's shielded from the unrelenting west winds behind the barn. A quick check on Tino, a little look in the basement (it's not flooded yet, but it's just a matter of time), and I'm outta there.

8 p.m. Can't avoid it any longer. Have to go home and deal with it. I'm grateful for the down comforter and wool blanket the folks gave me from their motorhoming days. Aside from the relentless howling of the wind, when I'm underneath those blankets the world is a wonderful place.

7 a.m. Thurs., March 9. No power. No shower. I pour some water from a jug into a pan and heat it up on the propane stove for washing up. Teeth and hair brushed, I'm surprised I don't look worse. Head off to the office where, as usual, I'm the only one who doesn't have power at home.

10:30 a.m. (new time) Sun., March 12. I thought my mood would be worse what with the dreaded flipping of the clock, but the sunshine oddly makes up for it. Since I don't have to go to the city for the weekend, I decide there's no time like the present to begin to tackle the huge debris project that Mother Nature laid at my doorstep. It's chilly, yes, but I have a beautiful campfire pit and some really awesome, gnarly old flannel shirts that when layered up do just fine in any conditions. Plus, all the moving and bending and hauling of twigs and logs, branches and limbs keeps the heat flowing.

The fire's big and blazing. The frozen pond reflects all there is around it. The ducks are still drawn to it, whether it's an ice rink or not. I'm grubby and a little tired. And supremely content. And abundantly grateful for all of the minutes and hours it took to bring me to this blissful moment of peace.

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Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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